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Stop gap solution approved for flooding issue in Bethlehem Twp.

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Apr 02 2013 11:16:01 AM CDT
Bethlehem Twp. commissioners
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

A short-term solution to a flooding problem that has plagued a Bethlehem Township neighborhood for more than a decade was approved by the board of commissioners Monday night.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to allow the public works department to start cutting a swale across private property to divert water away from Knollcroft Avenue and to have the township solicitor to get permission from the affected property owners.

Township manager Howard L. Kutzler said when there is flooding along Knollcroft Avenue, "the residents are almost held hostage if they don't have an SUV."

He said the swale will carry the water on to Country Club Road.

Public works director Richard Grube said flooding became a problem in the neighborhood "probably 10 years ago, maybe longer than that."

He said the swale is "a fix that's not going to be a big payout," although a more expensive pipe system may eventually have to be installed.

Kutzler estimated the swale work will cost $3,000 to $5,000, far less than the piping system, which carries a price tag of at least $150,000.

Commissioners president Paul Weiss said the flooding problem "wasn't really something that was out there" when homes were being built in the Knollcroft Avenue area in the late 1970s or early 1980s and a French drain was installed to handle storm water runoff.

The flooding problem "has been on the radar screen for a number of years, because serious ponding has become a public safety issue," he noted. "But budget issues pushed it to the back burner. … Hopefully we can get [the swale] done before the cold weather comes back."

Two Knollcroft Avenue residents, Roger Farber and Kathleen Sweeney, spoke in favor of the stopgap measure.

Farber said the French drain "has been collapsed for a long time," and allowing the problem to continue raises the potential for a sinkhole developing. "And what if someone had a medical emergency when there is flooding?" he asked. "At least a little money [being spent] is better than none."

Sweeney told the commissioners, "The whole area is unsafe, and at least 11 children play in that area."

In other business, the commissioners voted 3-1 to grant conditional final approval of the Meyer Lane Apartments preliminary/final plan. The planning commission recommended the approval at its March 25 meeting.

Developer Bob Cahill plans to build a 48-unit apartment complex on the southeast corner of Falmer Drive and Meyer Lane, about a half-mile south of Notre Dame High School. Two three-story buildings would house 24 one- and two-bedroom units each.

In October of 2006 Cahill proposed building an office condominium on the property, but switched to the apartment plan earlier this year because, he said, market conditions had changed.