Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Testimony Continues on Rehab Proposed Near Becahi

Jay Leeson has questions
As locomotives bellowed their lonely greetings on a cold and rainy night, nearly fifty people crammed into Bethlehem Town Hall on November 29 for a third hearing on Abe Atiyeh's request for 70-bed voluntary inpatient substance abuse center at 111 Dewberry Avenue, the site of the recently vacated Calvary Baptist Church. The facility will be managed by the Malvern Institute, which wants to expand into the Lehigh Valley. After another four and a half hours of testimony, zoners called it a night.

Although this proposed rehab center is permitted as a "special exception" under Bethlehem's zoning ordinance, it borders a Bethlehem Catholic High School baseball diamond, is only a block away from the Bernie Fritz playground, and is only a few hundred yards away from Kirkland Village, a senior assisted living center.

To mollify security concerns, Atiyeh Attorney Blake Marles called Malvern's Chief of Security, Tim Hubbard. He testified that the precautions planned at 111 Dewberry, from 24/7 security to fencing, are "above and beyond" what already exists at Malvern.

Hubbard told zoners he'd be comfortable with his own children attending a high school this close to a residential treatment center. But in response to cross-examination by City Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni, Hubbard conceded that he played no role in creating security plans for the Dewberry facility, although he did review them.

Monique Sexton, Director of Marketing at Malvern, told zoners there is a "huge need" for this kind of facility n the Lehigh Valley, which has no similar kind of rehab facility. But Bethlehem Catholic Attorney Jay Leeson pointed out that the Lehigh Valley's need is irrelevant, and the only need that should be considered under Bethlehem's zoning ordinance is the need within Bethlehem itself. She also conceded, under questioning by Attorney Spadoni, that Malvern only serves paying customers, and would be unable to meet the need of those without means.

Malvern CEO Joe Curran described the typical patient as the same as everyone else. "Addicts come in all colors, sizes, ages, professions," he stated, adding that a stigma exists because "people are afraid." He pointed to movies like Reefer Madness, designed to scare people into thinking that addicts will "rape, pillage, murder and kill." In reality, Curran stated 1 in every 4 families has a loved one who suffers from addiction.

Under intense cross-examination by North Bethlehem Action Committee Attorney Steven N. Goudsouzian, Curran was forced to concede there were inconsistencies between his own descriptions of addicts and those which appear on Malvern's own web page. Curran also admitted that at least 50% of his clients suffer relapses and that he does no criminal records or Megan Law checks for prospective customers.

Curran was also grilled by Kristine Borges about a bed bug infestation at Malvern, resulting in three citations from the Department of Health. "I know more about them than I ever wanted to learn," Curran stated, noting that he had to purchase special equipment, change exterminators three times, bring in specially trained dogs and undergo special heat treatments. Noting that bed bugs can even be found in 5-star hotels, Curran testified that the issue was confined to Malvern Institute and presented no danger to the community.

"I am so happy that we are free of them," he stated, as audience members and zoners began scratching themselves.

Testimony will resume on December 19, 4 PM, at Town Hall.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally someone brought up Megan's Law. Its nice that so called treatment is needed, but it is inevitable that a sex offender will be present in this facility near a school and playground. Just what the community needs is more drug addicts and invevitable sex offenders near our children.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Wanted to be sure before writing but according to reliable sources, Ms. Beyer does not work for Rooney, rather a major national union.

Anonymous said...

But Bethlehem Catholic Attorney Jay Leeson pointed out that the Lehigh Valley's need is irrelevant, and the only need that should be considered under Bethlehem's zoning ordinance is the need within Bethlehem itself.
This is the thinking of the City of Bethlehem. What's in it for us.

Anonymous said...

This dude is either a big time philanthropist or is really into making money off the most desperate and vulnerable in our society.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:50, You are correct. I need to update that post.

Anonymous said...

There is no question as to what is the appropriate action.
The law is the law.

Anonymous said...

Build the rehab, he'll 40% of the "angles" in that school will be clients anyway. What a crock of shit. Drug addicts are not child molestors any more than the people in the audience understand what is happening in the zoning meeting.

There is a need in this town for a upper end drug rehab.

Anonymous said...

What's in it for the. City of Bethlehem?

Are you really that stupid or just ignorant ?

Maybe if ur kid has a problem, you won't have to drive to Philly or Scranton every day to see them and the care that they are receiving for starters.

Build the re-hab already... That neighborhood is not that fancy anyway, bunch of dumpy houses on a main thoroughfare as far as I can tell.

One of the 99%

Anonymous said...

If they take any action, approval is the only one that won't get struck down by the court.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why?

Anonymous said...

SO wonderful these certain areas in Bethlehem produce no addicted residents , alcoholics ,or dui offenders in Bethlehem Township. Is it the water ? How do i get hooked up ?

Anonymous said...

The zb and the city will abide by the law. They must ensure individuals abide by the law. In this instance the law is clear.

The law is the law!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Here we go again.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the law says IT IS AN ALLOWED USE, by special exception... thats all, nothing more, nothing less.

The LAW is the LAW

Anonymous said...

There is a need in this town for a upper end drug rehab.

Yeah, put it in Upper Mount Bethel or some other woebegone place in the county.

Anonymous said...

They are asking for one in BETHLEHEM, not where it fits YOU but where it suits THEM,

The LAW is the LAW

Anonymous said...

The zb and the city are meeting their requirements under the law. A "special exception" is just that and demands a specail action. The zb and city must wieght the decision to grant the special exemption against their repsonsiblility to the people and their need to uphold the law.

The law is the law.

Anonymous said...

The law is very clear. No drug rehab near a school.

Anonymous said...

And WHAT law would that be, I mean I know no DRUGS by a school and no dealing by a school, but could or would you please show me that in the law i.e. section etc. so we can all see it ourselves?

Anonymous said...

Commerce related to addictive drugs are not allowed within a specified distance of a school. If this unforunate and non permitted use is pursued the appropriate statutes will be provided.

The law is the law.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Treatment is entirely legal, and the appropriate statutes have already been provided to the ZHB by Att'y Marles. If you want to make an argument, you should at least be accurate.

Anonymous said...

You've made some decent points there. I looked on the web to Learn More about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.