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Conditional use approved for 121 S. Main Street

In a well-attended council meeting Jan. 31, Alburtis Borough Council addressed a series of administrative and fiscal matters.

The meeting commenced promptly 7 p.m. Council President Ron DeIaco began the meeting by allowing Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong to provide an update on county developments. He talked about a few emergency services initiatives, funding updates, as well as some other news updates.

One initiative to point out was a policy to allow the police to see through a caller’s cellphone camera if the caller responds “yes” after making a 9-1-1 call.

The floor was then opened to public comments, allowing community members to voice their concerns and suggestions; however, none were received.

Mayor Kathleen Palmer was not in attendance to provide a report.

Council then approved the meeting minutes from Jan. 10 and Jan. 18.

Next, the approval of bills for payment dated Jan. 31 and a review of the fiscal consultant’s report were conducted. All was approved, although there were questions on yard waste fees and engineering fees.

To start the administration portion of the meeting, there was a presentation from Hayden Rinde and Sara Yost of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. They were there to introduce themselves to the new council members and give a rundown of GLVCC which is the sixth largest chamber in the country and the largest in the state.

Rinde and Yost said their goal was to elevate economic initiatives, events and local businesses in the borough and overall Lehigh Valley.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to a conditional use hearing for a property at 121 S. Main St. The applicant, 410 Enterprises, LLC, proposed a mixed-use development comprising one commercial unit and six residential units within the main building, alongside preserving a single-family dwelling in an existing carriage house. This proposal aligns with the C-1 Commercial District’s conditional use provisions.

The borough solicitor, engineer and council reviewed and asked questions on the proposed plan. Additionally, a neighboring resident to the property had concerns about the parking and property lines.

An issue did arise with the conditional use of the building. The zoning of the area is commercial, and during his plea on residential parking, the applicant, his engineer and his attorney made the argument he won’t be using his office much, which concerned the borough solicitor if this conditional use will be operating appropriately.

The applicant’s attorney argued the building may be zoned commercial, but the commercial usage is only slightly over 25%, which is the minimum required to be considered for this conditional use application. This fact changes the zoning ordinance that can be applied, which then mediates the issues with the parking and the appropriate use. Additionally, the applicant and the neighboring resident did reach an agreement on a couple of the concerns presented.

After a lengthy discussion, council approved the conditional usage for the property in a 5-2 vote.

After the hearing, the council heard another presentation by representatives from Jaindl Enterprises. It was about a previous request for a zoning map amendment from L1 to R2 for an area off Scenic View Drive and Church Street. A previous request was submitted to council for the same location; however, the development plan showed high-density townhouse construction on the property. The new plan showcased 12 detached single-family homes to be built on the property.

There were concerns from Councilman Mehmet Birtek, who felt the property should not be developed at all due to flooding concerns. The area the developers would like to rezone is in a flood zone and Birtek does not see a need to rezone, or even encourage, the idea of putting buildings in that location. In virtual attendance were residents living around the property who were strongly opposed to the zoning change.

However, this request was only for a zoning change, and the residential building plan was only a concept. Many stormwater regulations would need to be dealt with regardless of what would be built on the spot. Right now, it is a commercial zone, and Jaindl could technically plan for a warehouse to be built there, but again, it would need to meet the necessary environmental regulations.

Council decided against the zoning change in a 5-2 vote.

Council also reviewed a yearly maintenance quote from Bartlett Tree Service for the webworm treatment to preserve the health and aesthetics of borough trees.

Next, the borough maintenance department requested the purchase of a Jumping Jack tamping rammer for $2,249. The purchase was approved.

Lastly, the council discussed the GEO Specialty Chemicals Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act Downstream Notification. After this notice, the meeting was adjourned.

The next Alburtis Borough Council meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. Feb. 14 at Alburtis Borough Hall, 260 Franklin St., Alburtis.