The proposed ordinance changes to the transition zone on College Hill that would allow for the progression of the college’s McCartney Dorm Project to continue will be voted on for final approval by Easton City Council on May 9.
According to Vice President of Finance and Administration Roger Demareski, if the ordinances pass on May 9, they will sit for 30 days before officially becoming law on June 9. At that point, the college would then submit a new land development application to the Easton Planning Commission Meeting, most likely for their July meeting, Demareski said.
If the Easton Planning Commission votes against recommending the new land development plan, Demareski said the college has the right to appeal their decision to city council. However, if it is approved, the land development plan will not go before city council, and construction would most likely begin during the spring of next year at the earliest.
Initially, the McCartney Dorm Project was set to open in fall 2019. The timeline for the dorm project has been slowly shifting back, but Lafayette’s enrollment had continued to increase. There are currently 759 members, a number which may decrease slightly, enrolled in the class of 2022, compared to 681 students in the class of 2021. This raises the question of how the college plans to accommodate its expanding student body.
Now, “[The McCartney Dorm Project] would most likely open in the fall 2020,” Demareski said.”So we have a couple options we’re exploring to provide some beds to bridge the gap.”
As to what these options are, Demareski said he is “not prepared to share just yet.”
Demareski said that while the college originally only planned to keep the modular housing in the March field parking lot for two years, they will most likely keep March Hall for three years as a result of the timeline changes.
The amended ordinances were presented to Easton City Council on April 25 where they were voted to move to final approval on May 9. However, at that meeting many College Hill residents spoke, saying despite meeting three times with the college, the changes made to the proposed ordinances were not enough of a compromise, according to Lehigh Valley Live.
“We believe the meetings were very productive and allowed each side to share its thoughts and concerns. One key result is that if phase 1A is approved, the College agreed to not move forward with the planned development at 1B (gravel lot across from the Wawa) but rather work with the City and Community to re-evaluate this site for its highest and best use,” Demareski wrote in an email.
This compromise was presented earlier this year by the college. Site 1A is located along McCartney street. Site 1B is located on the corner of Cattell and High Streets, and represents about 33 percent of the project with 55 beds.