New bus routes around campus have prompted an initiative to build two new bus shelters at the Vine Street and Webster Street stops.
The bus shelters will be maintained by the university, but they are considered an accessory use, said Craig Peiffer, a zoning officer for Bethlehem. The current zoning ordinance states that shelters must be placed 20 feet back from the sidewalk.
“Bus shelters can provide a number of resources that benefit our community,” said Bob Bruneio, manager of Lehigh’s Transportation Services. “Bike racks, alternate energy lighting and charging stations (via solar solutions) are also considered when we plan bus shelters.”
Kristine Dwyer, a senior project manager in Facilities Services for Lehigh, said the university proposed to place the shelter on East Packer Avenue.
Lehigh had to be granted an appeal of the current zoning ordinance by the Zoning Hearing Board of Bethlehem.
“Langan Engineering has constructed the plan for the bus shelters,” Dwyer said. “They are essentially three-and-a-half sided, so it is the back and the two sides with an opening on the front.”
Dwyer spoke on behalf of Lehigh at the hearing, and with no objections, the board voted in favor of the appeal within seven minutes.
The city is in the process of updating its zoning ordinance, but Peiffer said the update won’t happen in time to satisfy Lehigh’s needs.
He said although the appeal was granted and Lehigh can put up the bus shelters right after the hearing, if someone calls an appeal within 30 days, the shelters may have to be taken down or the process postponed.
However, he said it is not likely for this to occur.
“This (approval) is not unusual, and the city has been generally supportive of our efforts to provide shelter for the transit riders,” Bruneio said.