One long-time resident of Bethlehem Township has written an essay - The Truth About Green Pond Marsh. It's really a scathing indictment of Bethlehem Township municipal government.
The truth about Bethlehem Township is that it has always been in favor of development, wherever and whenever and however it can get the land, even sleazily if it has to. In the 60’s, insider corruption allowed a low-income HUD-style development built in an area zoned for private homes. The Steve Lane Garden Apartments on Freemansburg Avenue for 5 decades have housed thieves who prey on the surrounding neighbors and a guy who hung himself in the unheated garage he lived in.This person is tougher than I!
In the 70’s, the Archibald Johnson Conservation area was established by the generosity of the land owners and deemed undevelopable. A mere generation later, BT officials tried to rezone the conserved flood prone area for development, a move that made one astute Council member say to his fellow members: “Can’t we have at least one parcel of land in BT left alone?”
In the 90’s home building on farmland was all the rage until the township realized that taxes brought in from homeowners is actually less than it costs the township to support those homes. Then it starting courting businesses and stores. Stores don’t have to send kids to school. Stores plow their own lots. Stores are a lot richer than middle American families.
But it was in the 2000’s, that a development so atrocious to humankind was approved by Bethlehem township that it resulted in a state law against anyone ever doing such a heinous thing again. The Barbosa Mobile Home Park used to stand in a thick grove of mature trees in Miller Heights. Jim Deegan of the Express times summed it up well in his October 28, 2012 article:
"The bill sprang from Northampton County, where in 2006 about 50 families discovered they’d have to uproot everything and move within weeks from the Barbosa Mobile Home Park in the Miller Heights section of Bethlehem Township.
"Some of the Barbosa residents had lived decades there, with everything they owned tucked between the prefab walls of a 60-foot-long trailer. Under previous rules, they had 30 days to vacate and no required help in paying to move.
"[The Law] requires manufactured home community owners to inform residents within 60 days of any decision to close; gives them at least six months, not 30 days, to leave once the closure notice is given; pays them up to $4,000 in relocation expenses for a single home and $6,000 for a multi-section one; and pays at least $2,500 or the home’s appraised value, whichever is greater, for those unwilling or unable to relocate."
A sadder irony is that the tumult created by the Barbosa Mobile Home Park didn’t have to be. Six years after the condo plans went public, the tract has no trailers. It doesn’t have condominiums either. Weeds and mounds of dirt cover the property now — one of many Ashley Development projects that petered out.