Saturday, October 29, 2011
Judge Moran, 5 City Council Members, Oppose Atiyeh Drug Rehab
When testimony resumes on October 31, the City of Bethlehem might be raising some concerns itself. Six Bethlehem residents, calling themselves the North Bethlehem Action Committee, have asked Mayor John Callahan and City Council to intervene in what they consider a "ludicrous" proposal presenting an "extraordinary danger" to students at Becahi, who are vulnerable, as well as children at Bernie Fritz playground, located only a block away on Atwood Avenue. The proposed rehab center is also only a few hundred yards away from Kirkland Village, one of the City's largest assisted living communities.
Bill Moran, a Northampton County judge who recently stepped down after a long and distinguished career on the bench, is a member of the citizens' group asking the City to intervene. Judge Moran explained that his group actually strongly supports rehabilitation centers, but the location and size of the facility is troubling. He added that, under the City's proposed zoning ordinance, such a facility would likely be prohibited at that location.
A telephone call to the Mayor's office concerning the City's intervention was not returned in time for publication. But on October 28, five City Council members fired its first volley in this zoning appeal, in a letter to the Zoning Hearing Board, expressing their opposition. They state the "location is inappropriate with respect to its size, supervision, lack of control, and would negatively impact the character of the surrounding neighborhoods." The letter is signed by Council President Bob Donchez, who is joined by Eric Evans, J. Willie Reynolds, Jean Belinski, and David DiGiacinto.
DiGiacinto, Evans and Reynolds all sat in and listened to five hours of testimony during the first hearing.
In the meantime, Attorney Blake Marles has made a request of his own. He sought and obtained a subpoena from the Zoning Hearing Board to compel the presence of John P. Petruzzelli, principal at Becahi. He has previously told zoners he expects to call at least seven witnesses.
Blogger's Note: This is a revisions of a story that I published on Thursday, noting Judge Moran's objections. It is based on recent developments in a fast-moving story.