Unfazed, Harte has kept plugging along, and on April 16, presented Commissioners with the latest sketch plans for the 2.76-acre, residential tract, located near Christian Spring Road.
Resident Barry Roth, noting that both entrance and exit are at the top of a hill, told Commissioners it "screams a bad accident is gonna' happen there, and someone is gonna' get hurt."
When Harte spoke to Commissioners, he noted that K-Mart's owner refuses to grant an access easement, and asked for some help in arranging a meeting.
Commissioner Tom Nolan called the plan "somewhat of a nightmare, traffic-wise." President Paul Weiss added that Atiyeh would need a zoning change for a convenience store in a residential zone.
No formal action was taken on what is now just a sketch plan, in its preliminary stages.
In another Atiyeh matter, Commissioners decided to accept an Commonwealth Court ruling in favor of the developer. A three-judge panel, on April 5, accepted the developer's argument that the Township's Zoning Ordinance illegally makes no provision for prisons.
Although this ruling paves the way for a private prison on Fritch Drive, that appears unlikely.
"We won the case, but lost the customer," Atiyeh complained, condemning the stall tactics he faces from many municipalities, even when zoning relief should be obvious. "They find a way to stall you and block you until the customer goes away," Atiyeh lamented, noting that he has spent over $300,000 in legal and engineering fees for the Bethlehem Township site.
Attorney Stanley Margle, representing the Township in this dispute, recommended against an appeal, calling the Court's ruling "not completely unexpected." But because the Court's ruling opens the door to prisons anywhere in the Township, he recommended that Commissioners begin the process of amending its Zoning Ordinance, which would give them six months to decide on appropriate locations.
Margle's recommendations were unanimously accepted.
In other business, independent auditor Todd Bushta informed the Board that his audit report for 2011 revealed no internal contol deficiencies. "All in all, it was a very clean sheet," he declared.
Commissioner Michael Hudak also reported that he has met with representatives of Bethlehem Vo-tech, and they are in the preliminary stages of planning some masonry work at Housenick Park.
The Board of Commissioners will meet again on Monday, May 7, 7 PM, at the Municipal Building, located at 4225 Easton Avenue.