Bethlehem Township approves new hotel

Posted: 12:23 PM EST Dec 24, 2013   Updated: 9:46 AM EDT Oct 22, 2013

It took more than a year, but the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners have rendered their verdict on the Freemansburg Land Development Plan.

The five-member legislative body voted 5-0 Monday night to grant conditional approval to the preliminary and final plan submitted by Dr. Atul Amin for the construction of a six-story, 120-room hotel on roughly nine acres of property, located on the south side of Freemansburg Avenue, just west of the proposed St. Luke's Hospital Riverside Campus.

Access to the site - which is located within the Hospital Health Care Village District and the Streetscape Enhancement Overlay District - is proposed via driveway connections to the future Emerick Boulevard West.

The plan had been approved by the township's Planning Commission on September 24, 2012, but languished in a holding pattern while several issues were addressed, thus preventing a formal up-or-down vote by the board, until Monday night.

Amin's long-term vision for the project also includes a parking garage and three retail buildings, two office buildings and a bank and office building in the future.

Besides the Freemansburg Square project, commissioners also granted conditional approval to ManorCare Health Services Arden Courts revised final plan by a 5-0 vote.

The approval allows for the construction of a 64-bed, one-story, facility to treat Alzheimer's patients, located on the south side of Freemansburg Avenue, about 800 feet east of Ohio Street. The property is located within Bethlehem Township's Institutional Overlay District and will use public sewer and water.

In other business, the board approved a motion naming Doug Bruce acting township manager effective November 1st. Bruce, the township's current assistant township manager, will serve in an interim capacity while a final decision is made to replace departing township Manager Howard Kutzler, who attended his final township meeting Monday night.

To that end the board authorized an agreement between the township and the Lafayette College Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government to recruit Kutzler's successor.

Finally, the board asked for a revised quote from roofing consultant Mark Sobek of Mark Sobek Roofing Consulting, as it relates to getting a new roof on the Housenick Park Mansion. Sobek is developing the specifications for the installation of a new slate roof for the home and the materials needed to put it out to bid.