#LetterToTheEditor #Bethlehem #Overdevelopment
Letter to the Editor,
Rampant overdevelopment in Bethlehem continues unabated as 1,200 units of housing are under consideration by our town Planning Board. The cumulative detrimental impact on the environment, the character of neighborhoods, the school district, infrastructure, access to clean water, traffic, fire safety and quality of life is ignored by the board. Disregard of our zoning code is commonplace as the board attempts to force inappropriate development down our throats.
For example, the proposal by Greg Biche of Quality Holdings, LLC to build 14 units in two apartment buildings on the 1.06 acres parcel at 224 Delaware Avenue far exceeds the zoning code maximum density allowed of 8 units per acre.
Samuel Fresina, President of the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association, Inc., and Mike Varno, former City of Albany fire investigator and former Code and Fire Safety Officer for the City of Albany for over 15 years, have testified at board meetings that the site entrance driveway lacks sufficient width for fire apparatus to enter and parking areas have inadequate room for multiple emergency vehicles to maneuver. Also, potential changes to Delaware Avenue would likely increase response time of emergency personnel and make equipment access more difficult.
Evidence of past petroleum storage and cemetery usage on the parcel was presented but the board has refused to require the applicant to perform his due diligence to thoroughly investigate for contamination or human remains. Instead, the board wasted an unknown amount of taxpayer money having Planning Department staff perform perfunctory investigations on behalf of the applicant.
Over 550 residents signed a petition in opposition to this project and many dozens more have spoken out at numerous board meetings demanding the board deny approval but all have been met with deaf ears and blind eyes. The neighbors were forced to hire an attorney and an engineer to insure true and factual information was presented to the public. Participants at board meetings are never allowed to challenge assertions made by applicants or town employees during the meetings.
This Planning Board chairman does not practice democracy or transparency but merely anarchy. Neighbors throughout town must band together and oppose overdevelopment in each affected neighborhood by attending meetings and calling or emailing board members in order to stop the destruction of every inch of green space that now remains.
George T. Harder,