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Merchant discussion of street closures yanked from Tuesday night meeting agenda by New Hope Borough Council

borough hallA funny thing happened on the way to Tuesday night’s meeting of Borough Council, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at 125 New Street.

One of the evening’s most anticipated discussions had been suddenly and inexplicably yanked from the agenda.

The discussion was originally scheduled in response to a request from prominent New Hope jeweler Diana Michaels for the borough to re-consider its approach to closing entire blocks to vehicular traffic during special events like the Thompson Bucks County Classic bicycle race on Sept. 7.

“Closing streets to traffic without talking to business owners is poor communication,” said Herb Millman, a shop owner who has helped organize North Main Street merchants and previously served as a New Hope Chamber of Commerce president. “Canceling a discussion of merchant concerns abruptly and without explanation is outrageous.”

For its part, Borough Hall said in a statement, “The matter will be addressed by the Council President this evening.”

Council will consider, however, a request for a special event permit by Ship Shape Health & Fitness for a 5K/10K race on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m.

Diana Michaels was not immediately available for comment.

Other agenda items on tap for Tuesday night’s meeting include consideration of approving the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness, as recommended by HARB, for (1) 96 New Street, by Al Lieberman an  Carole Bloch, for removing two windows and closing window areas; (2) 87  South Main Street, by Jessica Hammer, for installation of a sign; (3) 28 West Bridge Street, by James and Celeste Manitta, for replacement of a roof railing; 4) 41 B West Ferry Street, by William and Rhonda Cronin, for exterior  painting; and (5)  8 West Mechanic Street, by Blue Moose Café, for enclosing the porch and adding a new door at the west side entrance.

One item not recommended by the Historic and Architectural Review Board (HARB) is authorizing Borough Council’s lawyer to prepare advertisements of an ordinance amending the “historic river hospitality use” based upon a petition to amend the zoning ordinance submitted by Gateway to New Hope, LLC, who want to demolish the historic Odette’s tavern to make way for a luxury hotel. The move could effectively lay the basis for circumventing the traditional purview of both HARB and the Zoning Hearing Board. New Hope Borough Council President Claire Shaw has refused to recuse herself from voting on the proposed high-rise boutique conference center that investors want to build next to her property.

Council’s lawyer also wants to advertise amendments to the Tree Ordinance, as proposed by the Shade Tree Commission.

Tuesday night’s meeting will also see A) Review and discussion of Zoning Hearing Board appeal no. 386, submitted by Margaret Oliver Krist, Trustee, for 10 Old Mill Road, for modification of a previous Zoning Hearing Board decision that restricted use of a cottage to an unrelated  person; B) Review and discussion of Zoning Hearing Board appeal no. 388, submitted  by  Michael Lombardo, for 46 N. Main St., for certain variances to allow a multi-family dwelling consisting of two dwelling  units; and C) Review and discussion of Zoning Hearing Board appeal no. 389, submitted by Bucks County Playhouse Theater, Inc., for 7 S. Main Street, for a variance to maintain a non-permitted illuminated sign facing the Delaware River.

Also up for review and discussion is Zoning Hearing Board appeal no. 383, submitted by Edward A. and Eva Short, for 142 South Main Street, T. M. P. 27-­‐010-­‐170, in the Light Commercial (LC) zoning district.


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Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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