Two new ordinances were scheduled to be voted on by Bethlehem City Council Sept. 4 but one, an amendment to the fireworks ordinance was pulled to allow council to reconcile differences on the permitted hours for fireworks.
The second bill, a $2 million general obligation note for improvement at the Bethlehem Golf Club on Illicks Mill Road, got preliminary or first reading approval from the council, but over the objection of councilwomen Dr. Paige Van Wirt and Olga Negrón.
Residents packed the city council’s chambers last week to hear that the recent law passed by Bethlehem’s legislative body to control the phenomenon of private homes being turned into short-term rentals for a constantly shifting population is not working.
Bethlehem City Solicitor William Leeson explained that there is a pending lawsuit against the City of Bethlehem challenging the validity of the ordinance. He said this has effectively put enforcement on hold until that case has been adjudicated – a process that, if appealed, could take years.
“A ginger cat called out to me one morning on my walk to work,” said Julie Vitale, tears never far from her eyes.
Vitale, a Bethlehem resident, was speaking Aug. 21 to Bethlehem City Council urging the city to adopt a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) policy. She was describing an incident that happened in Allentown, but was telling her story hoping that it would emphasize the plight of feral cats in Bethlehem.
“This is my 27th year in corrections,” said Warden Janine Donate when asked by Commissioner Nathan Brown to address the board of commissioners Aug 22. She is currently the warden of the Lehigh County Jail.
Donate had just been introduced by Lehigh County Executive Philips Armstrong as someone of whom he is proud; someone who has been “coming up from our own ranks.”
Lehigh County Commissioners approved their 2019–23 Capital Plan Aug. 8. The plan sets the investment in capital projects through 2023. Commissioner Dr. Percy Dougherty sponsored the plan. He said the $129.1 million plan is higher than previous years because it contains about $73 million for the planned Cedarbrook renovation.
In other business, the commissioners reappointed William McQuilken of Lynn Township to the Lehigh County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Board.
Lehigh County Commissioners gave preliminary approval for the 2019-20 Capital Plan July 25. In gross numbers, the plan calls for a five-year grand total expenditure of $129,107,334.
The first reading of the plan passed 8–0. Commissioner Brad Osborne was absent.
Some big-ticket expenses being funded in 2019 include replacement of the voting system - $3.5 million; the Coplay to Northampton Bridge - $5 million; courthouse upgrades - $1.06 million.
The music was loud. The elementary school girls were having an afternoon out at Bethlehem Skateaway in Bethlehem Township – some were roller skating, some were playing a table game with Haneef Muttaqi, an adult volunteer, and others were walking or lounging around in their socks just talking with friends. The June 27 skate party was part of bigger plan.
Advocates for the bill banning conversion or restorative therapy for minors in the jurisdiction of the City of Bethlehem were happy when City Council voted 6 – 0 (Councilman Michael Colon was absent) to pass the bill.
“You are the 17th municipality in Pennsylvania to pass a similar ordinance,” said Adrian Shanker, a leader in the LGBT community. He is the founder and executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown. He serves on the advisory board for Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity among other responsibilities.
The Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society will probably get a $2,000 grant, $3,000 less than the newly formed nonprofit had requested. Lehigh County Commissioners approved a motion at its July 11 meeting to amend the bill to reduce the original $5,000 to $2,000.
At the previous meeting, at the first reading of the bill, Commissioner Percy Dougherty opposed the idea of giving $5,000 saying other deserving organizations who have been operational for many years were only getting $2,000. The bill will be voted on again at the next commissioners meeting.
Conversion therapy for minors is now illegal in Bethlehem. City council voted 7-0 July 3 to revoke the business license of any licensed therapist found to be providing a service that seeks to, according to the stature, “change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feeling toward the individuals of the same gender.”
Allentown passed a similar ordinance in 2017.