Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bethlehem Citizens' Group Takes Aim at Atiyeh Rehabs

Greg Zebrowski & Stew Early
When developer Abe Atiyeh proposed a residential drug and alcohol treatment center next to Bethlehem Catholic High School, he poked a hornet's nest. A grass roots group that includes former Northampton County Judge Bill Moran rose up and actively fought it. After numerous lengthy meetings, Atiyeh's idea was ultimately rejected by the Zoning Hearing Board on March 5.

Now this group, which calls itself the North Bethlehem Action Committee, is taking aim at three other rehabs being proposed by by Atiyeh. But group members Stewart Early and Greg Zebrowski, at City Council's April 17 meeting, did more than encourage them to join their fight. They also suggested changes to Bethlehem's zoning ordinance that will effectively prevent rehab centers from locating near schools, by imposing a 1000' buffer from schools.

A new zoning ordinance being considered by City Council would impose a 500' buffer.

Undaunted by his March loss before Bethlehem zoners, Atiyeh has submitted plans for three new residential treatment facilities:

  • 2110 Center Street: 28 beds, at Center and Dewberry, next door to the former Calvary Baptist Church and only a few hundred feet from Bethlehem Catholic High Schol;
  • 2349 Linden Street: 47 beds at the former Moose and Bug flower shop, within 1000' of Spring Garden Elementary School; and, 
  • 238 West Goepp Street: 100 beds at the Silk Mill apartments, within 1000' of LV Children' Center and William Penn Elementary School.

The Center and Linden Street applications, which are for "special exceptions," are scheduled to be heard by zoners on Monday, April 30, at 6 PM.

Early told City Council that a 1000' buffer "sends a strong signal that locating a rehab facility close to our schools, playgrounds, and parks is not in the best interest of Bethlehem."  He also urged city lawmakers to identify "specific locations" where a drug and alcohol treatment center would be appropriate.

Zebrowski called the numerous rehab proposals a "theater of the absurd," and asked City Council to monitor the proceedings and "support the neighborhoods."

City Council opposed Atiyeh's request for a drug rehab facility at the now vacant Calvary Baptist Church.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Abe is just a glutton for punishment.

Anonymous said...

Thank god Al Bernatos and the gang are not involved with this group.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Is that really necessary?

Al Bernotas said...

The correct spelling is B-E-R-N-O-T-A-S.

Anonymous said...

What needs to be brought into consideration in all of Atiyeh's hearings is his blatant disregard for zoning laws in place and constant challenges to them. His latest involves the gas station on Linden St in Beth Twp where the zoning is residential, not commercial.
He needs to be charged like lawyers when these frivolous and lack of merit challenges waste tax dollars!

Anonymous said...

Atiyeh showed at the hearing that there is nowhere in the City of Bethlehem that you can place a residential center in a residential zone without being near a public place.

These Northside prigs pretend that they have no substance abuse issues, and only the poor people on the Southside should be dealing with it. You never hear them complain about "property values" and "safety" when things are planned south of the creek.

Anonymous said...

"A grass roots group that includes former Northampton County Judge Bill Moran rose up and actively fought it."

And why do we care that Bill Moran was involved?

Bernie O'Hare said...

A couple of reasons. He is a former judge. He is well-respected. He is influential. His support means more than say, a bottom feeding blogger's.

Al Bernotas said...

The reality of the situation is that Zoning Hearing Board decisions are ultimately subjective and political, supported under the guise of knowing and following the law. The ZHB is given wide latitude and much discretion. Atiyeh has four or five locations where he will be attempting to locate Drug Addict Rehab Centers. Watch what happens when Judge Moran does not participate, and when you have little or no legal representation supporting the objectors contentions. Decisions will go in Atiyeh's favor. Political, financial, legal, and neighborhood pressures will diminish, and Atiyeh will win, making Bethlehem the Drug Rehab Capital of Pennsylvania. There should be a specific zoning ordinance banning Atiyeh from submitting appeals to the the ZHB, said with sarcasm, but I wish we could do it. Drug addicts should stop buying illegal drugs. That would be the best rehab. So why should we bring criminal drug addicts into our residential neighborhoods, to line Atiyeh's pockets with gold. Let him take it to an industrial area. Let them be isolated from society. Locate them were they cannot buy drugs, at least for 28 days.

Anonymous said...

The reality of the situation is most of these groups do not even qualify to speak at the meetings due to the small fact they have no standing in the matter. and why are you so opposed to helping people who have a problem, why should parents be forced to drive to philly to see their "angles" ? Why can't we have a drug rehab right next to Morans house, he would not even notice it due to the obesely high walls around his home

Anonymous said...

It is called supply and demand B-E-R-N-O-T-A-S-S, something you do not understand. How can Bethlehem become the Drug rehab capitol of the country? Explain this one to me. Again you can not, you make statements that are completely full of crap and incite others to follow, no fact, not study, just pure horse shit, but should we expect anything else from you?

Anonymous said...

Someday I hope to meet Abe and I will shake his hand for trying to stand up for what is right. I give him a lot of credit. The only question is where does Bethlehem Twp. currently allow that use and after they draw their 500 ft. circles how many parcels of land is his use allowed on? If the answer is none or only a few, he will win again and again.

Anonymous said...

Al---- "locate them to an area where they cannot buy drugs". Where is that? Hello wake up, anyone, any age, anywhere in the Lehigh valley can buy whatever they want in 15 minutes. I could go to my church and find someone who has something illegal on them to sell. Drugs are sometimes easier to get than a beer and a shot. Sad but true. Don't get me started on prescribed meds. That's even another issue.
Everyone is escaping from reality, like we're are Russia in the 60s drinking our life away producing squat and only wanting to watch hockey at the local palace.

Bill said...

He is setting the city for a slam dunk lawsuit based on this precedent case:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-3rd-circuit/1279169.html

Anonymous said...

Very good Bill, you win the GOLDEN start for a great class effort. Good job and when Bernie is done reading it it might make a really good article for the blog.

Anonymous said...

Abe is playing games but will lose.
"The law is the Law".

Anonymous said...

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