Lafayette appeals denial of McCartney Street plans, will go before city council

Courtesy+of+the+Presidents+office.+

Courtesy of the President’s office.

Claire Grunewald

The college decided to appeal the decision made by the Easton Planning Commission to deny the college’s plans for mixed-use dormitories on McCartney Street. The appeal was filed earlier this month, and Lafayette is set to go before Easton City Council on Nov. 9.

“We are appealing the decision which is based on the plan that was submitted to the planning commission in July. It’s the exact same plan that was submitted when the zoning laws were changed back in the spring, so that is the plan we would appeal,” Vice President of Finance and Administration Roger Demareski said.

At the meeting Sept. 6, the commission voted 5 to 1 against the college’s subdivision and land development plan necessary for phase 1 of the expansion plan to commence. This phase is a mixed-use dormitory site stretching from the corner of McCartney St. and High St. to March St.

Despite the zoning ordinances changes that were granted for the plan by Easton City Council, the planning commission, which also voted to not recommend the zoning changes last spring, felt the college’s plan was not in compliance with city ordinances.

Demareski said the college chose to appeal this decision as a result of past support from the council and the benefits the expansion would have for both the college and the community.

“In April the message was clear that [Mayor Sal Panto] and city council wanted this to happen, they wanted this specific project to happen. They changed the laws in the zone for it to happen, so I believe that they remain as interested as we are in seeing this project come to fruition,” Demareski said.

The college feels confident in their plan and the city’s continued support, but if the council does not approve the plan, the next appeal would be to Northampton County Court. Panto, who sits on the council said he expects appeals to continue beyond the council hearing, according to The Morning Call.

Demareski said this is a possibility, however, the college would be more likely to reevaluate their plans in this instance.

“I think we’d have to carefully evaluate why the city council would change the laws in April [and], with it being the exact same project, for what reasons would they not approve it now,” Demareski said.

While the McCartney dorm project was the first focus of the expansion, the college has other alternatives and has begun looking to further developing these projects while the college waits for its appeal meeting.

“We had planned to do McCartney Street first, but in order to keep our options open we’ll start looking at what the third project, which would be the Watson Courts site, would look like,” President Alison Byerly said.

“We’re doing just sort of preliminary discussions with architects so that in the event that we needed to move that kind of higher up in the batting order, we could move in that direction,” she added.