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Prisons and jail may be built in agriculture district in Bethlehem Township

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 04 2013 09:09:13 PM CST
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

Last fall Bethlehem Township approved permitting prisons and jail to be built within the township’s agricultural district and on Monday night, they took some additional housekeeping measures to make it official.

By a 4-0 vote the board of commissioners approved an amendment to repeal all previously established ordinances inconsistent with the update to their zoning decision of October 1st.  Commissioner D. Martin Zawarski was absent for the vote. The ruling Monday night echoed and were consistent with the changes to the code that any prison built in designated portions of the township’s zoning would have to be at least 1,500 feet away from any homes. That ruling was precipitated initially because a Commonwealth Court had ruled that the township had unfairly excluded prisons in their zoning laws, after township resident developer Abraham Atiyeh challenged the law when he was considering building one.

In other business Monday night, commissioners also approved a motion granting waterline and temporary construct easements to Easton Suburban Water Authority as part of its construction of a 12-inch waterline in and around the area of the intersection of the Bethlehem Township Bike Path and Sheridan Drive. The vote was 4-0.

The construction project is expected to begin either in March or April and last for about one week. During that time the bike path will be shut down during the day, but will be open during the evening hours, according to ESWA officials. Most of the project work will actually place in neighboring Palmer Township, according to Bethlehem Township Manager Howard Kutzler.

“There is only about 400 feet of trail work that will be done in Bethlehem Township,” he said.

In other motions, commissioners Phil Barnard and Zawarski were appointed to the township’s Fire Relations Committee by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Thomas Nolan dissenting. The issue had been tabled from the January 17th meeting after all three men applied for the positions. On Monday night Vice President Michael Hudak raised the motion naming Barnard and Zawarski to the posts, partly because they were not involved in past history and were newer members of the board.

The committee, which will include members from various entities in the township, was established from a study on the township’s volunteer fire companies by David Wolgom, associate director for public service for The Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center at Lafayette College that was released in September 2012. The study reviewed and analyzed both of the township’s fire departments – the Bethlehem Township Fire Company and the Nancy Run Fire Company.

Last fall Bethlehem Township approved permitting prisons and jail to be built within the township’s agricultural district and on Monday night, they took some additional housekeeping measures to make it official.

By a 4-0 vote the board of commissioners approved an amendment to repeal all previously established ordinances inconsistent with the update to their zoning decision of October 1st.  Commissioner D. Martin Zawarski was absent for the vote. The ruling Monday night echoed and were consistent with the changes to the code that any prison built in designated portions of the township’s zoning would have to be at least 1,500 feet away from any homes. That ruling was precipitated initially because a Commonwealth Court had ruled that the township had unfairly excluded prisons in their zoning laws, after township resident developer Abraham Atiyeh challenged the law when he was considering building one.

In other business Monday night, commissioners also approved a motion granting waterline and temporary construct easements to Easton Suburban Water Authority as part of its construction of a 12-inch waterline in and around the area of the intersection of the Bethlehem Township Bike Path and Sheridan Drive. The vote was 4-0.

The construction project is expected to begin either in March or April and last for about one week. During that time the bike path will be shut down during the day, but will be open during the evening hours, according to ESWA officials. Most of the project work will actually place in neighboring Palmer Township, according to Bethlehem Township Manager Howard Kutzler.

“There is only about 400 feet of trail work that will be done in Bethlehem Township,” he said.

In other motions, commissioners Phil Barnard and Zawarski were appointed to the township’s Fire Relations Committee by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Thomas Nolan dissenting. The issue had been tabled from the January 17th meeting after all three men applied for the positions. On Monday night Vice President Michael Hudak raised the motion naming Barnard and Zawarski to the posts, partly because they were not involved in past history and were newer members of the board.

The committee, which will include members from various entities in the township, was established from a study on the township’s volunteer fire companies by David Wolgom, associate director for public service for The Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center at Lafayette College that was released in September 2012. The study reviewed and analyzed both of the township’s fire departments – the Bethlehem Township Fire Company and the Nancy Run Fire Company.