|Artist's rendering of arena entrance|
At high noon, when most people are at work, planners approved revised plans for redevelopment of a 5.1-acre square block along Hamilton Street with a hockey arena, 7-story hotel containing 180 rooms, 7-story office building and two parking garages. Two planners - Attorney Oldrich Foucek III and Mark J Buchwalt - were forced to step aside because of their own involvement in the project. The four remaining members - Richard Button, Keith E Hoeing, Christian J Brown and Martin Velazquez III - quickly gave their stamp of approval to what Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has called a transformational project.
This green light comes with virtually no inquiry, over vociferous objections from Abe Atiyeh engineer David Harte. It comes despite litigation that Atiyeh has already been filed against plans approved in January. It comes despite the lack of a traffic plan. "Those details haven't been honed out yet," claims a City engineer.
"Parking is very important, and there were no definite answers given on parking today," noted Harte. The hockey arena alone has a 8,500-person capacity, but the two garages planned for the facility only have capacity for 725 cars total.
|After two planners step aside, Button runs the meeting.|
Representing ACIDA, Attorney Tim Siegfried scoffed at Harte's objections, accusing him of attempting to interject "ambiguity" and "vagueness."
Planner Christian Brown called the project "fantastic." He noted that hockey fans could park in satellite lots and visit shops along their walk to the arena. Planners also noted there are no parking requirements for downtown development.
Unknown to planners, Hanover Township's Board of Supervisors met on March 13, too. They met in the early evening, when most people are home from work. Sitting in the audience was noted zoning and planning lawyer James Preston, who works in Solicitor Jim Broughal's firm.
Following an executive session, Supervisors authorized Solicitor Jim Broughal to challenge the use of Hanover Township's earned income tax to finance any part of this project.
"Do we fight this?" Supervisor Steve Salvesen asked in February.
The answer is yes. Unanimously, Supervisors authorized Broghal & DeVito to sue over the "misappropriation of Hanover Township’s EIT by the City of Allentown."
Township Manager Jay Finnigan declined any further comment.
(Updated 11:15 AM, to include details of Hanover's motion last night.)