Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thumbs Down to Second-Hand Shop on West Broad

Second Hand Shop Attracts a Crowd
He's unable to read or write. But for the past two years, Gerardo Garcia has operated a second-hand shop on West Broad Street. It's called Jayla's Place, in honor of one of his two children. But Jayla will have to find a new place. Bethlehem zoners, at their June 27 hearing, denied Garcia's application for a use variance after listening to neighbors call it a nuisance that attracts loiterers and double parkers.

Operating on a corner property owned by Dean Nguyen, Garcia told zoners he was unaware he needed a variance. Calling it a "really small business," Garcia explained he is "just doing what I can to survive." His inventory? Used laptops, small TVs, phones, VCRs and toys. In his two years in business, he claimed there had only been one complaint, concerning a charger.

Garcia explained that he knows 85% of his customers. He photographs them and asks for ID before accepting merchandise. Nevertheless, he admitted that in 2010, he purchased laptops and ipods that had been stolen from Lehigh University. Garcia denied knowledge they were stolen, and testified for the prosecution.

A dozen or so local businesses and neighbors were at the hearing, and six of them spoke against it. Mary Toulouse described a "shabby appearance," the regular presence of police and loiterers whose very presence "intimidates" potential customers at other businesses. Shannon Patrick, whose Puppy Palace is just two doors away, complained about snowblowers, washers and dryers, bicycles and car trailers on the sidewalk outside the shop.

"It's a detriment to the neighborhood," claimed Patrick, who added that Garcia's customers do not appear to be from Bethlehem, or even from the area. But after the hearing, a tearful Garcia claimed he is a life long Bethlehem resident.

Another neighbor, Michael Keyock, pointed out that parking problems in that area make the business unsuitable He noted there is considerable loading, off-loading, double-parking and parking on sidewalks. "It's just not the right location for that business," concluded Keyock.

Neighbor John McGeehan, who also is employed as Director of Public Safety at the Northampton County jail, seemed more upset with the building's owner, Dean Nguyen, than he was with Garcia. He chided Nguyen for letting Garcia, who is illiterate, operate a business without zoning approval. He then added this would be in bad taste, "even in Ho Chi Minh City."

"I wouldn't know. I never stepped foot in there," Nguyen responded after the hearing. Nguyen also pledged to help Garcia find another location where he can do business.

Despondent and fighting back tears, Garcia observed he "never had anything" until he had that business. He claimed he cleared snow for the entire block, but Patrick disputed that assertion.

Garcia plans no appeal.

In other business, zoners denied a variance for a family daycare center at 83 W. Goepp Street. Owner Antonio Tejada appealed to operate the daycare without required fencing for an outdoor play area and a safe pick-up. He failed to appear before zoners, which made their denial both quick and unanimous.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Muggsy still has his county gig? Now there is a real survivor. Good for him. Live long and prosper, mugs!

Anonymous said...

and they call you racist

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem is doing what Allentown should have done a long time ago. Everytime a law is broken or a rule transgressed the offending action is always rationalized with accusations those enforcing the law are racist. Convenient BS that is the curse of this obsession with diversity that is dividing this country.

Anonymous said...

what we need is more laws that state if you ain't white you ain't right

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, Anonymous 7:17.

Great stuff.

Obama and his "programs" will save you. You know what to do. Two or three times, whatever it takes!

Hope and Change, baby.

White people, they are just clinging to their Bibles and guns, of course.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry.

That should be "bitterly clinging".

My bad.

Anonymous said...

The little guy CAN'T play by the rules because the big guys DON'T.

Anonymous said...

Another minority owned business takes it in the chops and where's Alan Jennings?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Garcia did nothing to help himself. He was basically begged to ask for a continuance. He moved ahead, with a room full of opponents. He put on absolutely no case. McGeehan obviously made bigoted (or at least insensitive) remarks, but Garcia definitely needed a lawyer who could have presented his cause in the best light for zoners. Garcia probably should have reached out to some of those neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, can he appeal this?

Bernie O'Hare said...

He told me he will not appeal. If he did, I think he would lose. He needed to put on a better case.

What this case shows is that ZHB decisions affect real people. I do not envy anyone who sits on these boards.

Anonymous said...

Yes Bernie, because no mater how you rule, someone says you are either connected or corrupt or you just don't "get it". They should pay these people $1000.00 a month to take this abuse

Anonymous said...

I applaud the zoning board. Any more "businesses" like this and we become Allentown east.

Anonymous said...

How was McGeehan bigoted?

Bernie O'Hare said...

His remark about Ho Chi Minh City, directed to Nguyen, was certainly insensitive and, in my view, racist. Do I really need to explain this?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that he was a decorated Vietnam era member of our military. Is it possible that he speaks from experience? I am also assuming that the landlord is Asian.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised McGeehan still works of the county. He was placed by Mike Solomon early in the Reibman days so he could have a paycheck. Somehow he survived John Stoffa's era of "good government".

That's interesting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:36, I don't give a rat's ass whether he is a vet or not. I'm a vet, too. His remark is still at the very least insensitive. As I indicated in my post, the landlord is Vietnamese, and McGeehan made several condescending remarks to him, noticed by me and several others. He should have stuck to the facts instead of making references to someone's ethnicity, which is irrelevant.

7:50, John Stoffa kept several people from the Reibman era. He sees the good in other people.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I cannot allow that comment unless you identify yourself and take responsibility for what you write.