Property is a Flood Plain. This area is known for extensive flooding. Saucon Creek is located next to property and proposed development could have adverse consequences for Saucon Creek and surrounding community. Recent storms such as Ivan and Isaias have caused Saucon Creek to flood the entire area. View pictures and video
Creek Road is too small and narrow to accommodate the additional traffic. Many areas on Creek Road are only passable by one car and the intersection of Creek Road and Friedensville Road has bad visibility. Creek Road has flooded many times during major rain events. Also, many of the Lehigh University sports teams and students use Creek road to run on and local residents use this road to gain access to the Rails to Trails path.
Developer purchased property for $215,000 in 2017. He now has property listed for $799,000. Under section 910.2.a. of the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code, as well as Section 27-605.3 of the Township Zoning Ordinance; "Unnecessary hardship is a term commonly used in zoning law to justify the grant of a variance from zoning regulations. That the requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood; and. That the alleged hardship has not been self-created." There is no hardship for the developer and he is only asking for rezoning to improve the value of the property.
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To be authorized, rezoning cannot alter the essential character of the district or neighborhood in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, and not be detrimental to the public welfare.
This stretch of the Saucon Creek that is classified as Class A Wild Trout Water starts one mile upstream from the High Street Bridge and runs to the Route 412 bridge. The PA DEP has classified the Creek as High Quality- Cold Water Fishery, Migratory Fishes (HQ-CWF, MF). A 40-unit senior residential unit with 60 parking spots is going to create contaminated runoff containing salt, fuel, and fertilizer which would contaminate the creek.
Comments from local Relator: The rezoning and development will only create more impervious surface, and it will be the Borough of Hellertown that receives the consequences of more flooding, while the City of Bethlehem receives more tax revenue. It is irresponsible to cover 10 acres, all in the highest flood zone, with 40 units and 60 parking spaces, creating wetland intrusion and a traffic nightmare. The developer is exploiting the land, has no hardship, & is motivated by profit alone. Zoning exists to protect land and neighbors from such exploitation., His purchase at $215,000 in 2017 still can be recaptured if he resells the property as a single family home. The developer has created his own hardship from which the City should not grant relief.