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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Green Pond Marsh, Stormwater Woes Discussed in Bethlehem Tp

Photo (Bill Berry) Canada and snow geese at Green Pond Marsh
One of the hottest issues in Bethlehem Township at the moment is Tradition of America's (TOA) proposal for a 229-home active senior community next to Green Pond Marsh, which is part of lands owned by the Green Pond Country Club. The U.S.Army Corps of Engineers recently designated nearly five acres of the 68-acre parcel as wetlands. Not just any wetlands. But wetlands that provide a home for over 180 different birds species throughout the year in what the Audubon Society recently designated as an "Important Bird Area."

(Photo Bill Berry) Flooded road at Green Pond Marsh
TOA has significantly scaled back its proposal in response to environmental concerns. In addition to reducing the number of homes from 256 to 229, it has nearly doubled the buffering area and has increased the amount of open space from 22 to 29 acres. Managing partner David Biddison has told Township planners that he's gone as far as he can.

If the active senior community is approved, a provision in Township zoning will require that the remaining golf course lands be kept as open space, even if the golf course eventually fails. Golf Club president John Daub has promised that, if that happens and the TOA plan falls through, he will develop the entire golf course.

As TOA engineers a formal plan, environmentalist Karen Berry registered her concerns with Commissioners at their March 7 meeting. Berry and her husband Bill visited the property after a recent hard rainfall, and were shocked by the amount of traffic at 7:45 am, as well as roads deluges by storm waters.

10th St residents flooded out five times since June
"I remain deeply concerned about the consequences of putting 200 plus tightly clustered houses on a tract with water and hydrology issues, that is currently a natural area by way of the vegetation and fauna that live or visit there," she said. She also raised concerns that the Marsh is also an "archeological site registered with the State of pa. through its Historic and Museum Commission because of the Indian artifacts found there."

Berry also questioned whether a restriction on future building would last, and cited as an example the removal of deed restrictions that will permit development of a $335 million Fed Ex hub on lands now owned by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

"Deed restrictions have temporary, not long term, value," she argued.

Commissioners took no action in response to Berry because there is nothing in front of them at this time from TOA. But they heard from residents in other parts of the Township with storm water concerns of their own.

Miracle League thanks Township
One such person is Dan Rex, a 10th Street resident. He and neighbor Heather Schwindenhammer have been flooded out of their homes five times since June and asked Commissioners for improvements to a swale above them, as well as grates and a basin at the Miller Heights elementary School.

Tom Nolan told them that the township is getting ready to do a storm water study that will "include everybody." He worried that solving their problem might create a problem for someone else.

Another resident, Thomas Senick of the 1600 block of Freemansburg road, complained about the mud collecting along the east side of the road after rainfalls, and suggested that the gutters be cleaned. "This problem should be addressed as soon as possible," he advised.

Senick is also concerned about as many as 100 dump trucks visiting a nearby quarry every weekend, carrying "questionable" material. But Planning Director Nathan Jones stated these dump trucks are participating in a DEP-sanctioned quarry reclamation project.

Resident Barry Roth complained  that he's "tired of hearing about [stormwater] studies. You got a problem. You know you got a problem. Just putting your head in the sand and ignoring the problem isn't making it go away." But Malissa Davis countered, "Everybody needs to think a lot about ways to get this paid for."

In other business, Commissioners approved an eight-home development called Washington Park Estates, which has been on the drawing board since 2007.  .

Commissioners also voted in favor of a minor change to Madison Farms, replacing a restaurant with an office building.

They approved a resolution authorizing the Township Manager to present a wish list of public safety grant requests to the NorCo Gaming Board at their meeting later this month.

They also voted to adopt guidelines under which Township police officers may make warrantless arrests for summary offenses like disorderly conduct.

Finally, they voted to advertise an ordinance that would rezone a small section of Easton Avenue from residential to neighborhood commercial for a proposed hair salon. Kim Jenkins opposed that proposal. All other votes were 4-0. Commissioner Michael Hudak was absent.

The Township also received some rare praise from Bob Lammi and Richard Agretto of the Northampton County Miracle League. They thanked Commissioners for an annual contribution to help fund a baseball program at the Charles Chrin Community Center for developmentally challenged kids Lammi, Agretto and Dave Colver, in the height of the Great Recession, were able to cobble together $750,000 to build a rubber baseball field for kids of all ages. They started with 85 kids and have grown to 300 athletes.

Lammi spoke of the "joy" this program brings to volunteers and kids "doing something they never thought they'd be able to do," with team uniforms and games played under the lights. The room burst into applause.


Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Twp is a Banana Republic.
They would pave over their grandmothers grave with no regard to the drainage.

Anonymous said...

So the twp manager what people to think about how to "pay for it"? Start by cutting back on the police department and ppis department spending, sell the community center and problem solved,

Anonymous said...

Malissa Davis countered, "Everybody needs to think a lot about ways to get this paid for."

Ms. Davis, you RAISE TAXES. Why is this so difficult? Why are you allowing our community to fall into disrepair? I am so tired of municipalities, the state, and the federal government not investing in infrastructure for fear of getting voted out of office. Do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

And don't listen to 8:12. The people that actually value the Township are willing to pay for it's upkeep. The ones who complain all the time are just cranks.

Anonymous said...

FYI: Township staffers are aware of the LV Ramblings news coverage and instructed to reply to any comments that are negative. 8:39 is one of the staffers, which one?

Anonymous said...

Capital - Community Center BTCC - Waterhog Classic Mat 6x10 $830.20
Same 6x10 3/8" thick on Uline.com: $312.00

Look at that township staffer, that's a quick google search and you could have saved $518.20

If that's how the purchases are done, someone needs to get fired!
Also, why would you by a mat from a paper company?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"FYI: Township staffers are aware of the LV Ramblings news coverage and instructed to reply to any comments that are negative. 8:39 is one of the staffers, which one?"

I am completely unaware of this policy and think that if it existed, I would know about it. I also find it incredible that you would demand that someone identify himself or herself without having the common courtesy to do so yourself. I have no problem with you noting that the Township could do things better, as we all could, but you have no right to demand someone for identification when you yourself hide under a rock.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Ms. Davis, you RAISE TAXES. Why is this so difficult?"

Ms. Davis and Jenkins are both in office bc Comm'rs raised taxes. They considered 38%, ct that in half, and two Comm'rs lost their seats as a result. That is what is so difficult. That is the reality. I agree that we sometimes need tax hikes, but there's no denying that it is very unpopular.

Anonymous said...

We all must understand this is the same incompeTENT circus sideshow as allways with different sticks hired and paid for by a criminally designing entity that is and allways has been responsible for the substadirt subterainian infastructures of all the developmental design regulations swailed like the snals snot left behind by these criminal perpaTRAITORS¿!)$ Were does LIEabilty LIE, when allentowns inflamed hemrode topped with a pussie boil has been told to ReWrite the flood plain on water street, now LIEING ina part martin luther king dr.¿!)$
The circus sticks are thick as theives not to even have a slight mention to other criminal acts of ommision by donor reciepiants thereof¿!)$
redd for Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

twp has no policy, office winking and nodding and why would they want to make you aware of it? The powers to be don't even want you there...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So the twp manager what people to think about how to "pay for it"? Start by cutting back on the police department and ppis department spending, sell the community center and problem solved,"

It wasnot the Twp manager but Malissa Davis who expressed this concern. Your answer is that the Twp should cut services to provide services. That is not an answer. And i doubt that even the most conservative voter would support cutting back on police. That is like cutting your own throat.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:15 That price was for more than one mat - it was a bulk purchase

Anonymous said...

@ 9:15

"Also, why would you by a mat from a paper company?"

Because it's Fuller Paper Company...as in toilet paper...janitorial, cleaning & maintenance supplies, a local company by the way...

Anonymous said...

Fuller may be a local company, but their prices are not always the best

Anonymous said...

Why are they buying mats anyway? Glancing through the monthly bills, seems as though Cintas has just about every square inch of township building floors covered with mats, carpets, towels and on and on...