Allentown rezones former incinerator site, allowing for more development options

The rezoned area is indicated by stripes in this image from Allentown city documents.

Allentown City Council approved the rezoning of a former incinerator site during Wednesday night's meeting. The vote was 6-0.

The site is located off of Basin Street. The change will alter the zone from Business Light Industrial, or BL-1, to General Industrial, or I-3.

"Changing the zoning will make the property more likely to be developed by allowing more intense industrial usages," according to city documents.

In addition, "railroad access may be possible to the property, which may be needed to serve the new industry," the city noted in the ordinance papers.

Storage Space

The council passed a bill eliminating a storage requirement for new, multi-family units over 700 square feet. For units under that amount, a minimum of 16 square feet of storage will still be required.

"The reduction in storage space is consistent with other municipalities, who do not have a requirement for storage space," according to city documents.

While the majority of the council reached the conclusion that the space reduction was warranted, one council member did not.

Councilman Courtney Robinson made an emotional plea against the reduction and for an activist government. He disagreed with statements made by colleagues about capitalism and that the role of government should primarily be focused on protecting the safety of residents.

"The market does not fix all evils," Robinson said. "… The purpose of government is to regulate the market."

By approving the storage requirement, the city was in essence telling residents "to work harder and get more money" if you want more storage space, he said. For some residents, who were already strained financially, it seemed a flippant stance, Robinson asserted.

"It's like saying 'you can choose to keep your life memories or you can get more money,'" he said.

Robinson added that he felt compelled to remind colleagues that it was "not our job to just serve developers, but it is our job to serve residents."

Councilwoman Candida Affa was absent from Wednesday night's meeting.