Sprawl-Buster Ted Morgan of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania writes that “Our group NoMall (for “Neighborhood Organizations Mobilized to Assure Local Livability”) in Bethlehem, PA. is fighting the rezoning of an excellent light-industrial site (formerly Durkee spice) to enable the development of a shopping center anchored by a Lowe’s Home Improvement megastore, along a heavily-traveled corridor between the city’s west side and northwest quadrant, passing by a nearby middle school. The Planning Commission has recommended rezoning 4-1.The Mayor wants it as a budgetary quick-fix. But the City Council holds the key vote, and their public hearing is on December 12, 2001. Key issues are the horrible traffic effects on W. Bethlehem , the short-sighted plan to add a commercial-retail site that will compete with efforts to attract much-needed retail into historic downtown Bethlehem and the former Bethlehem Steel plant site in South Bethlehem. Bethlehem Steel’s headquarters lie across 8th Avenue from the proposed site, and they have publicly opposed the rezoning. We want light-industrial development (or green space, or mixed-use) of the site> — NOT another shopping center! The city has done nothing to attract light-industry, despite several companies locating in nearby areas. The site has a rail line along one edge and it is immediately adjacent to a restricted-access highway through town. We have been involved in a year-long fight against the rezoning this 35-acre site. In addition to the traffic issues, cited not only by our traffic consultant but by the Lehigh Valley (2-county) Planning Commission (a Middle School two blocks from the site is especially vulnerable), there is a fundamental planning issue involving the creation of a new commercial shopping zone that will compete with efforts to attract retail to central city areas (downtown Bethlehem — an historic and tourism-oriented area, and South Bethlehem — a poorer area adjacent to the now empty Steel mill properties).
“For further information about the NoMall battle, go to www.penweb.org/nomall.”