Monday, April 02, 2012

Rainbow Academy Pre-School Approved By Bethlehem Zoners

Cramped quarters for ZHB
Because Town Hall was being used for Citizens' Academy, Bethlehem's five-member ZHB was crammed into a hot conference room to consider appeals on March 25. Heat and tight quarters provided ample excuse for an early exit. But zoners still soldiered on for nearly three hours, ruling on each of five matters.

The most controversial of these was for Rainbow Academy, a pre-school located on a 2.64 acre lot at the southwest corner of Linden Street and Johnston Drive, an area designated as rural residential. It's directly across the street from Elias Farmers Market, whose expansion request has been fought tooth and nail by a group of several neighbors, and is still in the courts. Although generally supportive of a daycare, these still had concerns about traffic, Saturday activities and a proposed Summer camp that could include much older children.

Rainbow, which already has thirteen New Jersey locations, has decided to branch out into Pennsylvania. Joseph Negrao, who owns the Linden and Johnston site and plans to operate a Rainbow franchise, already has zoning approval for a two-story, 90-bed, 24-hour, assisted living center at that location.

The Negrao family already own and operate three Alexandria Manor facilities in Nazareth and Bath, but have claimed the assisted-living market in saturated.

Although zoners unanimously granted a special exception for a 180-student pre-school, they imposed conditions that have the Negrao family wondering whether they'd be better off with an assisted living facility. In addition to ruling out Saturday classes for physical activities like gymnastics and karate, the Zoning Hearing Board placed an age cap on the Summer camp, restricting it to children 10 years old and younger.In other business, zoners unanimously approved four additional zoning appeals.

Francis Hayman, Jr, was granted a special exception to convert a vacant club meeting room at 618 Second Avenue into a small business office, where he would collect the rents for property investors. After listening to Hayman, neighbor Jennifer Bradley stated his business "would work well in the neighborhood."

Artist Sandra Corpora was granted relief from zoning restrictions so she could convert 57 East Wall Street into both her primary residence and a studio. Neighbor George White told zoners, "We're very excited to have her there as a neighbor. Very supportive."

Zoners granted relief from parking requirements for a daycare and small pharmacy at 817-9 East Fourth Street, which is owned by the Alliance for Building Communities. But they still insisted that leases be obtained so that 12 parking places are available.

Finally, they granted Scott Speshok's request to erect an above ground swimming pool at 1641 Lansdale Avenue.

"Let us know when it opens, will you?" joked Chairman Gus Loupos.

The next scheduled meeting of Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board will be Wednesday, April 25, 7 PM, at Town Hall.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has Abe Atiyeh filed his lawsuit on this project yet?

Anonymous said...

What does Abe Atiyeh have to do with this property?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Abe Atiyeh is in the assisted living business. He probably would object if Negrao wanted to put a senior center there, is my guess.