|KRE Attorney Ed Murphy|
Located along the north side of Freemansburg Avenue, near the Route 33 Interchange, Madison Farms is a sprawling 103.9 acre "green field development of compact, walkable, interconnected neighborhoods." Tree-lined streets with sidewalks will link residents to a 17-acre "retail village, as well as 35 acres of open space, in a "traditional neighborhood design." The residential component will include multi-family flats, townhomes, carriage homes and single family detached dwellings.
The retail village is the first phase of project approved for development. Asked when it will be finished, KRE Attorney Ed Murphy responded he is a bit more worried about getting started. KRE is still waiting for a green light from PennDOT, which must approve improvements on Freemansburg Avenue. That is expected this Summer, after which it will take about twelve months to complete the retail village.
In addition to approving the retail component of Madison Farms, Commissioners waived $729,000 in traffic impact fees because KRE has already agreed to pay about three times that amount.
In other business, Commissioners unanimously adopted a text change to the zoning ordinance, allowing dormitories in institution zoned areas as a conditional use. This will enable Northampton Community College to double student housing to about 600, which was pitched to Commissioners by the college last December.
Resident Barry Roth, a regular at every meeting, questioned whether Northampton Community College would gobble up residential neighborhoods. But that appears unlikely, noted Solicitor Jim Broughal, who pointed out that the 200' setback would alone prevent that from happening.
This dorm proposal had been previously recommended by the Planning Commission.
From the dorms, Commissioners went to the sewers, unanimously endorsing an agreement with the City of Bethlehem over what is called the "annual sewer capital charge." In 2010, Bethlehem Township received a $81,700 bill from the City, which was about four times what it customarily paid. Special Solicitor Stanley Margle credited City and Township officials with establishing a series of protocols that will remove unpleasant surprises.
The City's bill was accurate.
Finally, Attorney Dave Backenstoe asked Commissioners for a "letter of recommendation" to the Zoning Hearing Board for sign variances he is seeking from the Zoning Hearing Board for a new Scheetz gas station on William Penn Highway. "This Board is not known for giving recommendations to the Zoning Hearing Board," noted Commissioner Tom Nolan. Backentstoe was also told he'd have better success with zoners if he asked Commissioners to pan his variance.
Commissioners will next meet on Monday, July 1, 7 PM, at the Municipal Building, located at 4225 Easton Avenue.