Planning Commission meeting on the Armory development inconvenient for many neighbors

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The controversy over development of the Armory on 2nd Avenue occurred before Gadfly was Gadfly, but he attended and spoke once or twice at meetings on the issue. In fact, what he thought was a “raw deal” for the articulate and substantial number of neighbors was part of the root motivation for starting the Gadfly project.

Planning Commission meeting, 4PM, Thursday, November 14, Town Hall

a. (19-OO5LD&S) — Bethlehem Armory Land Development & Subdivision Plan and Landscape Waiver Request — 345 2nd Avenue – Ward 10, Zoned RT, Plan dated July 30, 2019 and last revised October 15, 2019. The applicant proposes the consolidation of lots and vacated streets for the redevelopment of the former Armory building. The project is construction of a 4 story multifamily building with 64 units attached to the former Armory Complex. The 2 garage additions of the existing Armory will be converted into 6 apartment units for a total of 70 units. The Armory drill hail space will contain a live/work unit for an artist. The 2.57 acre site will also contain 101 parking spaces.

As he writes, Gadfly does not see supporting documents for this agenda item posted on the City web site.

Unfortunately, the 4PM meeting time is inconvenient for many Armory neighbors. At the urging of people like Councilwomen Van Wirt and Negron, a few months ago the Mayor requested afternoon-meeting Authorities, Boards, and Commissions to consider moving to later times for citizen convenience, and the PC did agree to move to 5PM starting in the new year.

But that will not help now.

Gadfly has written to the Mayor, the responsible City administrators, the Planning Commission chair and members, and City Council urging a Thursday time change.

Followers — even if you are not Westsiders — are urged to do the same. Find contact info on the Gadfly sidebar.

For a reminder of the details of this controversial development (another one!), see the following good email from Mary Toulouse, Mount Airy Neighborhood Association president.

Dear all,

The Armory land use plan is the subject of the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday 11/14, at 4pm in the Rotunda. You will recall that as part of the Armory debacle (when 14 variances were granted the developer) the City will vacate half of 2nd Avenue between Spring and Prospect and hand it over for free to the developers for  parking.

Second Avenue is an important gateway to the West Side neighborhood, and the changes will have a direct impact on most neighbors. This entrance is already a tricky spot; if changes are to be made, it is important that we speak up and make sure that they benefit the neighborhood, both in terms of safe traffic patterns, but also in terms of beautification landscaping.

As I recall, some concerns about the preliminary proposal of the developers as vetted at the Zoning meetings included:

  • Diagonal parking at the base of the street will have cars dangerously backing into cars turning right onto 2nd Avenue from Spring. These diagonal spaces were needed to meet the requirements for the number of projected apartments in the design plan for the new building. Couldn’t this be changed so that the street is safe for everyone?
  • Is the space adequate for buses and cars to make the left turn from 2nd onto Prospect Ave?
  • Will the landscaping enhance the area or will it be minimal and turn the street into a Stefko Blvd with strip mall style parking?
  • What safety measures will be in place for cyclists or pedestrians going past the swath of cars in the parking lot?
  • What impact will the proposed landscaping have on the Armory itself, which is a national historic monument?
  • Where will the neighbors park?

Hopefully, some of these questions have been responsibly addressed by the City. But, unfortunately, the planning meeting is at 4PM  on Thursday—a time when most working neighbors cannot attend. Please attend if you can.

Kind regards,

Mary Toulouse

Neighborhoods are worth fighting for!

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