Three ordinances received final approval from Bellevue Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
The first amends the borough's administrative code to provide for a more efficient adoption of ordinances. This portion of the code has been amended several times over the years to accommodate the requirement that ordinances be approved on three separate readings over the course of at least two council meetings, but allowing for the suspension of the rule in emergency situations where all three readings must be approved at one meeting. The new procedure will more closely follow that already in use in municipalities governed by the state borough code rather than the home rule charter that governs Bellevue. The change calls for council to vote to introduce and advertise an ordinance at one meeting, and then approve the final two readings in one vote at the next meeting. The emergency suspension option has been retained.
Council also adopted amendments that "tweak" the borough's parking ordinance to allow residents to park vehicles such as small campers and kayaks on private property.
The final ordinance will expand the properties that will be required to install a key lock box for use in an emergency by police and firefighters. Prior to the original lock box ordinance, which primarily applied to commercial residential properties, first responders were faced with waiting for a key holder or breaking into a building, causing damage. All commercial properties will now be required to have a box containing a key to the business. The key to the lock boxes will be kept in a safe on the borough's firetrucks. Access to that safe is limited to the borough's three paid firefighters and the volunteer fire company chief.
Council member Tom Fodi voted against the ordinance, saying that he had heard from churches that were concerned about the expense. Mayor Paul Cusick said that he had heard from business owners who did not want anyone to have access to their stores or offices. Business owners will not be able to opt out of compliance with the ordinance.