BETHLEEM – The city could extend its moratorium on large residential developments by six months.

A public hearing will be held at the city council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the potential extension of the moratorium, which would continue the one-year hiatus on major subdivision developments of five or more units, as well as developments in ‘multi-family units. The purpose of the moratorium, according to city officials, is to allow the completion of the comprehensive plan update.

There is only the public hearing, not a vote extending the moratorium, scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting, according to the city council’s agenda.

“The moratorium gave planning staff and the community a bit of a break to really start thinking about our city’s values ​​and our vision in the entire process of updating the plan, without the pressure of having to navigating very large subdivision demands, ”said city supervisor David VanLuven. . “Some of our current codes have proven difficult when we look at the larger vision of our overall plan.”

The Comprehensive Plan Update Committee has held public meetings on a monthly and bi-weekly basis, as well as resident outreach events, over the past year to outline goals and recommendations for the city’s future. . However, with the restrictions caused by COVID-19, the process has been slowed down. While they have already established their five principles and are working on a draft proposal, the committee says it takes them another six months to finalize their recommendations and for city council to adopt a final plan.

“This gives the city time to understand the issues, especially the housing issues,” said Rob Leslie, city planning director. “Suspending residential development at this time can put in place policies on the types of housing we seek to have in our community so that when the moratorium is over… we can continue with housing projects that meet the needs of residents of the community. city. “

Leslie said during their meetings, the committee found that Bethlehem, which has mostly single-family homes, needs a greater diversity of housing options. More multi-family or two-family housing, he said, could help offset spending on city services (such as water and sewers, or education), as well as the aging population of the city.

The moratorium on large residential development was first declared a year ago. Commercial development, home improvement, construction of single-family homes and other smaller-scale projects would not be affected by the moratorium. Development proposals that have been approved would still be given the green light, but those that are still under consideration would be forced to put their plans on hold until the moratorium is lifted.

Leslie said there are currently 10 subdivision or multi-family housing proposals under consideration that are expected to put their projects on hold, but 300 lots and / or apartments that have already been approved for development plans – numbers unchanged from the first implementation of the moratorium.

The break frustrated some developers. Cardona Development Group, a real estate company owned by attorney Anthony Cardona Jr. of Slingerlands, has filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court over the moratorium. He wants to build a residential subdivision that would include 12 traditional houses and 40 row houses off Kenwood Avenue on what was once part of the historic Kleinke farm.

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