The reception table on the first floor of the City Hall is the first stop for citizens to get served. Bethlehem City Council met last week to discuss the Skyline West Project among other items. (Zhang/B&W Staff)

Update from City Council: use permit agreements, Skyline West Project


Bethlehem City Council convened earlier this month to discuss items on their agenda, including appointments to several positions, use permit agreements and a follow-up on the Skyline West Project deliberations from Sept. 20

President Michael G. Colón was unable to attend the first half of the meeting on Oct. 4 but later joined via Zoom. 

Vice President Grace Crampsie Smith presided over the meeting. 


Councilwoman Rachel Leon was up for reappointment to the Bethlehem Area Public Library Board. The appointment to this position is effective through January 2025.

Without any discussion among council members, the reappointment was resolved unanimously by the council. 

Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds appointed J. Marc Rittle to the Bethlehem Housing Authority. The appointment to this position is effective through January 2027. 

The reappointment was resolved by the council unanimously and without discussion. 

Use Permit Agreements

City Solicitor John Spirk Jr. had submitted several requests for resolutions regarding use permit agreements. 

The first agreement was for ArtsQuest for the second weekend of Oktoberfest 2022 on Oct. 7-9. The second was for the ArtsQuest Mercy Vegan Pop-Up Event on Oct. 23. 

Both resolutions were passed unanimously. 

Skyline West Project

The most heavily debated issue at the Oct. 4 meeting was the Certificate of Appropriateness for 143 W. Broad St., more widely known as the Skyline West Project.

The resolution had been postponed from the Sept. 20 city council meeting. The project involves constructing a luxury apartment building where a house currently stands. 

On June 19, 2018, Bethlehem City Council approved the demolition of the existing structure at the site, even though the Bethlehem Historic Architectural Review Board recommended against the demolition. 

Bethlehem citizens have expressed concerns that such a building could jeopardize Bethlehem’s chances of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Several members of the community voiced their concerns about approval to move forward on the plans for the Skyline West Project.

Community member Bill Shire said the City of Bethlehem should not do anything that could jeopardize its application to become a World Heritage Site. He suggested the city wait to move forward with Skyline West until the application process for becoming a World Heritage Site has passed. He said this would not negatively affect Bethlehem’s housing, as there are currently plans to build new apartments on the site where the Martin Tower once stood.

Bruce Haines, ‘67, managing partner for Historic Hotel Bethlehem, also said the Skyline West Project should wait. During his public comment, he said the International Council of Monuments and Sites — the organization that would review Bethlehem’s UNESCO application — recommends Heritage Impact Assessments for projects in and around Heritage Sites. 

“When you have the body that is going to come and inspect and determine whether we are qualified to be on the World Heritage list recommending that any project in the buffer zone or in the district go through a Heritage Impact Assessment, I don’t understand why we wouldn’t want to do that,” Haines said. 

The councilmembers discussed at length before voting on the resolution. 

In a public comment, councilmember Paige Van Wirt addressed why she voted against the architectural review board in 2018. 

“I felt it was a good use of a piece of land that was unlikely to be utilized or improved upon or lived on again,” Van Wirt said. 

She said she followed up on her vote and spoke to the individuals heading the UNESCO application, as well as those in city government who would approve permits for the building. Van Wirt also drew attention to a question she had regarding the landscape of the new development. 

In addition to mentioning the replacement of trees lost during construction of the building, Van Wirt also discussed the trees along the Monocacy Creek. She asked if there is a possibility of trees being planted by the developer, providing a natural screen for the new apartment building for viewers in the Industrial Quarter.

Mike Alkhal, director of public works, answered Van Wirt’s question during the meeting and agreed it could be something to be considered and pursued if the property owners along the Monocacy agreed.

Councilmember Hilary Kwiatek said most cities that contain UNESCO World Heritage Sites are modernized and we do not stop feeling the impact of history and heritage because of it. 

In a public comment, councilmember Wandalyn Enix said approving the Certificate of Appropriateness would be “too much of a gamble” for her.

Upon joining the meeting, Colón said he would make sure the Council met throughout the project’s progress to make sure everything was being done according to plan and according to stakeholder interests. 

Ultimately, the resolution passed with a vote of four in favor and three opposed.

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