Due to population changes in the 2010 Census, Bethlehem Township is proposing a redistricting of the four wards. According to the Northampton County Board of Elections, this ward redistricting will not go into effect until AFTER the November 2015 election.
The Bethlehem Township Ward Map from 2003 shows the population variance of the wards from 5,135 people in Ward 2 to 6,816 people in Ward 4. This is a 30% population variance. Per case law surrounding the Pennsylvania Municipal Reapportionment Act, only as much as a 10% deviation is acceptable. Therefore, in December of 2014, a meeting was held with the Township Solicitor, Township Manager, Township Physical Plant & Information Services Director, and Township GIS Consultant. The purpose of this meeting was to more evenly distribute the population among the four wards, making as few changes as possible. The data points available were the population counts per census block and the addresses of the current Commissioners, to make sure that a sitting Commissioner was not moved out of his ward.
The map that the staff presented to the Bethlehem Township Board Commissioners in January 2015 has a new population variance in the wards ranging now from 5,891 in Ward 4 to 5,961 in Ward 3. This is a 1% population variance. An Ordinance adopting the new ward map is being prepared by the solicitor’s office and will be presented for the Commissioners’ review and advertisement consideration at an upcoming Board meeting. Check the Board of Commissioners Meeting Agenda section of the website (http://www.bethlehemtownship.org/commagenda.pdf) for the exact date.
It is important to note that there will be no changes to the ward map for any of the 2015 elections. Once a new ward map is adopted, the Township will notify all property owners whose wards have changed.
If you have any comments or questions about the ward map, please email Township Manager Melissa Shafer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-814-6400.
Updated 1:15: Bethlehem Township's proposed new map is available online. The "Key adderesses referred to are the addresses of incumbent Commissioners. This presents the question whether it is fair to draw new boundary lines around their addresses.