Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bethlehem Township To Tweak Prison Ordinance

Marty Zawarski
Last month, Bethlehem Township's Board of Commissioners changed their zoning ordinance to provide for prisons in the agricultural district. They had little choice. The state's Commonwealth Court had ruled that the Township must provide for prisons somewhere. But Commissioners Marty Zawarski and Phil Bernard, the Board's newest members, still dissented. They were concerned that a prison could still be built as close as 200' from someone's home. They may have lost that battle, but Township Manager Howard Kutzler and the veteran Commissioners listened. At the November 5 meeting, Kutzler unveiled a proposal that will keep potential prisons at least 1500' away from any homes.

Changes last month already require a 1500' buffer between prisons and sensitive uses like schools. Kutzler suggested that residences could simply be included in this 1500' buffer zone, and land would still be available for a prison.

The area in question is on the north side of Route 22, bordered by Hecktown Road on the West, Farmersville Road on the East, and Lower Nazareth Township on the North.

Solicitor Jim Broughal advised Commissioners that this change would comply with the Commonwealth Court's directive. "The law does not require that the entire Township be made available for prisons," he counseled, noting that the land is available, open and has all the necessary utilities.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to authorize Broughal to prepare and advertise an ordinance making this change.

In other business, Commissioners unanimously agreed to revisions in the Township's recycling ordinance, adding corrugated paper to the products being recycled.

Commissioners will meet again on Monday, November 19, 7 PM, at the Municipal Building, 4225 Easton Avenue.

4 comments:

I'm Impressed said...

WOW!!!!!!!!! u can recycle cardboard in little bethlum now. these boys are quickly moving into the 17th century and r damn proud of it.

next thing u know they'll do away with the trolley car system and install toilets in the community center.

Lighthouse said...

Does crossing Route 22 count with a straightline 1500 feet? Do the farm homes on the LN BT border count, or can the prison be closer to those homes if outside of BT? Is the 1500 from a potential prision building? or its perimeter fence? Property line?

I almost think 1500 feet from Abe's neighborhood, the neighorhood on the other side of 22(Devenshire), and those on Farmersville, might all make it possible only for a single small spot on that tract...almost to the point of making it impossible or sterilizing. Almost the perfect tract if such a facility is to be, but Twp should be careful not to manufacture more unnecessary legal costs.

Lighthouse said...

1500 feet from property line of Moravian Academy, which is basically route 22? Or are highways considered a barrier not counted?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would think that Rte 22 or not, it would have to be 1500' away from Moravian Academy. There is, according to Kutzler and Broughal, room for a prison at that site. It appeared that way to me as well.