Preserve Our Bethlehem Community

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Bethlehem Alliance for Historic and Community Preservation  

Please sign and share this petition with your Bethlehem friends and neighbors and urge the town board to adopt meaningful, permanent zoning changes that will have the force of law in Bethlehem. 

Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/355527531465832/

The Bethlehem Alliance is a growing citizens organization committed to preserving our historic, community and environmental heritage. In December 2016, we initiated a call to action urging the town board to preserve neighborhoods throughout Bethlehem. Since launching this effort, hundreds of residents have voiced growing concern over development projects. Please stand with us and urge the town board to update zoning policies and planning practices in alignment with expectations of the community and help preserve our unique sense of place and community before it’s too late.

People settle in Bethlehem because of great schools, safe neighborhoods, historic appeal and evocative streetscapes. Unlike what many residents assume, the town does not have high standards for development. Development decisions should be made with regard for you and the neighborhood you live in. The town should advocate for historic preservation as it has for open space, have rigorous standards to review development, criteria to evaluate and a process to disapprove development applications based on adverse impact to the community, and issue positive SEQR declarations as needed. The Slingerlands National Historic District should exist in town code and the town comprehensive plan. Historic preservation and open space as "community space" are separate and distinct quality of life elements which the town should equally prioritize during 2018.   

Infrastructure capacity of town roads, power and sewers needs to keep pace with development. Town planning should recognize expanded use of on-line financial, shopping and business services trends that increasingly negate the need for more banks, retail and office space reflected by the existing number of newly built leased buildings that remain vacant. Town leaders, developers and real estate brokers should accept that most baby-boomers as the largest cohort are increasingly choosing to age in their homes. Instead, pricey rentals are aggressively marketed to older adults and millennials while Bethlehem offers no affordable housing for those in need.  

We want Bethlehem to grow and prosper. But our community should offer a welcome mat, not be a door mat. The town should apply common sense policies to manage growth and re-think planning and land use management practices which should: process approvals for development that are unique to community needs; consider aesthetic elements of development and the neighborhoods in which they’re located; require community benefit agreements as conditions of publicly-subsidized IDA tax breaks to large new businesses; promote multi-modal transportation access rather than building more roundabouts; and promote a real walkable, bikeable community that ensures safe access to the rail trail at every major access hub. In addition, Bethlehem is alarmingly maxing out power capacity forcing expected construction of a new electrical substation in a field at the end of the Rt. 32 bypass. Construction of a large new National Grid plant near many schools is very unsettling. The plant would also impair the view of the Helderbergs to supply 1/3 of needed power to the Vista Tech Park which ironically, is preparing to break ground for a new solar headquarters.

During our candidate forum last October, leaders who now comprise the new town board unanimously agreed the time has come to revise town zoning policies and update the comprehensive plan that is outdated and out of sync with expectations of the community. That time is NOW. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing for Bethlehem to control the trajectory, scope and scale of development.

Overwhelmingly, residents have asked what they can do to help. First, please spread the word and urge the town board to immediately confer priority status to the Slingerlands historic district and work with residents to accelerate review since legal authority to preserve the town’s only designated national historic district rests with localities, not NYS or the National Parks Service. The town must also collaborate with Albany County to safely and compatibly integrate the rail trail in the heart of the historic residential neighborhood.  Second, urge the town board to convene resident advisory committees to review and adopt rigorous standards for development during 2018. Moving forward on these efforts would be an excellent start.  

If ingenuity is the impetus for growth, development is the catalyst for preservation. Please join us on Facebook to make sure your voice is heard and review prior recommendations to the town board.  Share this petition with friends and neighbors who have a vested interest in preserving Bethlehem’s vital neighborhoods and community heritage, starting now. Every signature counts. Thank you!

If you'd like to get more involved, please:

Actively volunteer to spread the word about the issues facing our community, encouraging other residents to sign the petition and learn more on about us on Facebook;

Share alerts with your Bethlehem friends and neighbors;

​Attend town board meetings: TO SIGN UP FOR EMAIL NOTICES OF TOWN MEETINGS, GO TO NOTIFY ME AT http://www.townofbethlehem.org/list.aspx

Speak out about the issues:

Write letters in support of community preservation to the editors of the Bethlehem Spotlight and Times Union;

Post comments in support on our Facebook Page;

Call, email and write to town board members and tell them that they need to take steps to preserve the Bethlehem community!  Each signature automatically sends by email a copy of our petition letter to Bethlehem Town Board members.  

Call town board members at 518-439-4955, ext. 1164; 

Email all town board members at TownBoard@townofbethlehem.org;

David VanLuven, Town Supervisor dvanluven@townofbethlehem.org

Joyce Becker, Board Member jbecker@townofbethlehem.org

Maureen Cunningham, Board Member mcunningham@townofbethlehem.org

James Foster, Board Member jfoster@townofbethlehem.org

Giles Wagoner, Board Member gwagoner@townofbethlehem.org

Write a letter: Bethlehem Town Board, Town Hall Room 106 445 Delaware Ave. Delmar, NY 12054;

Speak at the Town Board meetings held every two weeks (public comment period is at the start of each meeting at 6:00 p.m.); and

Email individual town board members to share your personal views as a constituent they represent.

In addition, please contact Albany County and insist on safe access to the rail trail that prohibits mixed commercial and recreational use of the Slingerlands Trailhead, as Bethlehem's only major trailhead and other access hubs along the corridor.  

Contact County Executive Dan McCoy and key officials at: 

albany county_executive@albanycounty.com;

Michael.Lalli@albanycountyny.gov;

lisa.ramundo@albanycountyny.gov; and

william.anslow@albanycountyny.gov.

THANK YOU!



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