Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bethlehem Tp ZHB: Pallet Pro Can Stay

Pallet Pro has been recycling pallets at 2121 Willow Park Road since 1992. Over that time, it has tried to be a good neighbor. It has provided scrap and kindling wood to local residents over the years, and they returned the favor on December 29 when this pallet company appeared before Bethlehem Township's Zoning Hearing Board, fighting to stay alive.

Owner John Saber was completely unaware that his business, which recycles pallets for businesses in three different states, was located in a Conservation Recreation Zoning District. Neither was Bethlehem Township. Officials discovered that Pallet Pro never sought permission for that specific use in the course of researching a traffic complaint in October, and told Saber he needed to get a use variance from the Zoning Hearing Board. That's something they've never given anyone during Pallet Pro's 18 years of operation.

Attorney Steve Goudsouzian, representing Pallet Pro, produced forty letters from residents asking to keep the business alive. And although located in a conservation district, Saber testified that he's surrounded by other commercial properties.

Township resident Ken Steffie, who told zoners that he can remember when Bethlehem Township was still rural and he could shoot pheasants in his back yard, testified he gets his kindling there. "I have never seen anything that should worry anybody there," Steffie testified. "The man has to make a living. He hires people to work there. Why try to take that away from him?" Neighbor Bobby Hicks echoed Steffie's sentiments, claiming he goes there for scrap wood, and the business has a neat appearance.

Solicitor Larry Fox told zoners that a use variance is "an extremely rare remedy," and Township Manager warned about the "precedent" of granting a use variance and opening the door to other businesses.

Zoners decided, unanimously, to grant a variance anyway. They called it a "variance by estoppel" because of "good faith reliance" of township inaction over the past 18 years. Chairman Steven Szy acknowledged that for all practical purposes, it amounts to the same thing as a use variance.

Blogger's Note: Bethlehem Patch has reported on this story, with some interesting details about the business.


Anonymous said...

Oh NO, I hear Abe Attyeah is already planning an illegal alien jail/mini-market rehab center. He will be needing a zoning exemption.

Anonymous said...

callahan and reichard take over business

artsquest gets a 2 million anonymous donation

pallet pro files for bankruptcy 2 days later

c said...

John is a good man. He will be an asset to the township. His business will be run by the book.