Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O'HARE A backhoe operator begins the process of digging 4-foot by 6-foot holes in Green Pond Marsh, designated as an Important Bird Area.  PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O'HARE A backhoe operator begins the process of digging 4-foot by 6-foot holes in Green Pond Marsh, designated as an Important Bird Area.

Bethlehem Township: Developer digging holes in Green Pond bird area

Thursday, October 2, 2014 by BERNIE O'HARE Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

The Audubon Society has designated the Green Pond Marsh, located in Bethlehem Township, as an "Important Bird Area." Bird watchers have documented 162 bird species at the site, including eight that are considered endangered or threatened. Right now, nonexistent might be the better word. Birds stopped landing at Green Pond Marsh last week as developer Traditions of America was on the scene with a backhoe.

Traditions of America (TOA) Partner David Biddison confirmed that engineers are conducting infiltration tests "to ensure that we have a viable and complete stormwater management plan." An onsite engineer stated that 39 holes, each of them 6' x 4', are being dug, These are 75 feet away from the only portion of land that has been designated a wetland. But the digging, along with mountains of dirt, are piling up inside an area that Save Green Pond activists contend are very much part of the wetlands.

"If they can dump water into the wetlands, they get more square footage to build," charges Save Green Pond organizer jack Glagola. "What they're trying to do is pull a fast one."

Biddison has referred to a planned series of ponds as a conservation area, Glagola scoffs, "It's not a conservation area. It's a [explative] sewer."

Traditions of America, which has developed numerous active senior communities in Pennsylvania, had submitted plans for a gated community at Green Pond that will consist of 265 single family detached dwellings linked by a 2-mile walking path, a clubhouse and pool. Sensitive to concerns about the marsh, Biddison had included what he called a 20-acre conservation area.

These plans received a hostile reception from the public in August, when over 100 people flooded into a commissioners' meeting to raise concerns about possible negative environmental impact. A meeting had been planned so that Save Green Pond could present the findings of its owns consulting ecologist James Schmid, who is advocating that the state DEP conduct wetlands testing. According to Glagola, the state DEP has only one person assigned to investigate 11 counties.

This meeting was canceled when TOA abruptly withdrew its sketch plans.

The appearance of a backhoe and excavators on Thursday ndicates that TOA may still plan to develop the site with a senior living community.

On Friday, TOA returned, this time accompanied by Police Chief Dan Pancoast and a uniformed police officer, The police were there at the request of Township Manager Melissa Shafer.