Local beer company Country Club Brewing obtained approval from the Bethlehem Zoning Board on February 22 to convert 323 Pierce St. into a new use as a microbrewery and tasting room. The building is currently an abandoned auto garage, and the surrounding buildings are mainly industrial and commercial. However, the property is technically zoned residential and as such requires a special exception from the city for any other use.
The decaying Lehigh Canal dam near Nancy Run Creek was of concern at the January 21st meeting of the Freemansburg Borough Council. “We really need to look at it this summer and replace the planking,” said council member Charles Derr, explaining that the cycle of submersion in the wet season and air-drying in the summer has likely rotted the wood. Council members agreed on the need to raise funds. Some favored pursuing a park grant, but according to Derr, that could force the involvement of multiple contractors at a high cost.
The Freemansburg Borough council swore in a woman to its previously all male lineup during their reorganization meeting Jan. 6. New member Colleen Gallagher previously served as inspector of elections for Freemansburg, and has a professional background in IT. In May of 2019 she gave testimony to Northampton County Council regarding the security and accuracy of voting machines, stating that paper ballots are superior.
The Bethlehem Zoning Board heard four variance applications in its December 18 meeting, granting all but one. The most discussed item was the proposed five townhouse development at 262 Ninth Ave. The property is in a zone where multi-family dwellings are permitted but must have at least 2,500 square feet of lot area per unit, with maximum building coverage at no more than 30 percent of the property.
The Bethlehem Planning Commission Dec. 12 discussed a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would establish Short Term Lodging (e.g. Airbnb hosting) as a new use category, though it was ultimately tabled.
Such a zoning change would, “create an opportunity to define where short term lodging is permitted in the city and create parameters for the use...such as parking, owner-occupancy, limits of use, and code requirements,” according to a Dec. 5 memorandum to the planners from Director of Planning and Zoning Darlene Heller.
Alleged impropriety by the city of Bethlehem with regard to trench-digging was discussed again during the Freemansburg Borough Council meeting Dec. 3. According to Public Works Chair Jim Smith, the vity has been opening streets for installation of water pipes and failing to properly re-pave. They also have caused traffic problems by blocking off roads without informing the Freemansburg Police.
Plows and salt spreaders are being inspected and readied, advised Freemansburg Public Works Chair Jim Smith during the council meeting Nov. 6. Also reporting on winter weather preparations was Emergency Management Coordinator Jonathan Rossi, who said the borough is publishing an official response guide. “We put an action plan into place,” Rossi said, listing examples, “... if we need power outages, if we need to form a warming station, charging station... what are the hazards, and how is that going to affect an ambulance getting to someone in an event of a crisis?”
The Bethlehem Planning Commission has granted approval for the redevelopment of the Armory at 345 Second Ave. The historic art deco structure, built in 1930 for use as a National Guard drill hall, will be restored and expanded into an apartment complex. Following discussion and public comment Nov. 14, the commission voted 4-0 (with one recusal) in favor of Peron Development’s final subdivision plan and landscape waiver request.
South Bethlehem is on track to gain a new housing development adjacent to Lehigh University. The Zoning Hearing Board Oct. 23 unanimously approved local developer Louis Intile’s plan to demolish the existing structures on Van Buren Street between Taylor and Polk streets and build seven 2,100-square-foot, five-bedroom townhouses with expected completion in fall 2020.
Freemansburg Borough Council presented a City of Bethlehem sewer rate increase at its Oct. 15 workshop, informing residents that in 2020 rates will rise from $122 to $125 per period (a yearly increase from $366 to $375 per unit). Residents who pay the full year during the first billing period receive a $15 discount.
They then announced a number of upcoming public events, starting with Trick-or-treat, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 26 from 6 to 8 pm.