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Landfill overshadows governance

“I lived close to the landfill. I grew-up next to that landfill. And I lived in an area where we didn’t see it but we knew that it was there, we drove by it. And when I was a child, that landfill was owned by the city of Bethlehem,” resident Victoria Opthof-Cordaro told city council March 7.

“In 1994, when I was 11 years old, the City of Bethlehem took some very courageous steps and they entered into an easement with Lower Saucon Township to preserve that property that is now being subjected to a landfill expansion.”

Opthof-Cordaro is a facilitator for Citizens for Responsible Development, a group comprised of Lehigh Valley residents opposed to the Bethlehem Landfill expansion which has made headlines in recent weeks. She thanked council members, including Michael Colon, Rachel Leon and Grace Crampsie Smith, as well as representatives from Mayor William Reymolds’ office, for recent discussions with group members.

Pointing to a symbolic chair she brought to the podium, Opthof-Cordaro requested that Reynold’s and/or council members ask for party status at the Lower Saucon Valley public hearings on the landfill expansion.

City solicitor John Spirk reminded everyone that “from a strictly legal standpoint, the City of Bethlehem is not in the same position as all the other municipalities,” and that the city gave that easement and land rights to the township in 1994.

As for requesting party status at the public hearings, the issues currently being discussed were agreed to by the city back in 1988. Spirk said he didn’t believe obtaining party status was appropriate.

Reynolds said, “I have now spent more time on this issue researching it, looking through it than probably any other issue we’ve spent the last 14 months I’ve been here. It is obviously a serious one, and it is one that we have spent a lot of time looking at.”

Press photos by Marieke Andronache Representing Citizens for Responsible Development, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro asks Mayor William Reynolds and council to ask for party status at the Bethlehem Landfill public hearings.
Landfill 2: City Solicitor John Spirk explains the technicalities on why it would not be legally inappropriate for the city to ask for party status at the Bethlehem Landfill public hearings.