|Atiyeh (front) unhappy with Spadoni (rear) objections|
Both of these applications were originally filed last March, before Bethlehem's new zoning ordinance was adopted. Under that major overhaul, adopted in August, both Atiyeh sites would be too close to Bethlehem Catholic High and Spring Garden Elementary Schools. But the older zoning ordinance, under which Atiyeh's applications were filed, imposes no such restriction.
In July, zoners unanimously refused to allow Atiyeh to relocate his business offices from Whitehall Manor to a vacant home at 2110 Center Street, located on a 0.67-acre lot at the northeast corner of center Street and Dewberry Avenue. So now he's proposing to demolish the home and replace it with a 2 1/2 story residential treatment facility for up to 28 people suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction.
David Harte, a Professional Engineer and Atiyeh's right-hand man for the past three years, acknowledged that patients could leave at will at what is, after all, a voluntary treatment center. But as he has testified in other hearings, he stressed that there is "a need" for treatment centers in the Lehigh Valley. Over thirty people have applied for the Executive Director position, claimed Harte.
"I've seen people with Center Street addresses arrested for DUI," he noted, insisting that the patients at this center would be "no different" than many of the people in that very neighborhood.
Zoner James Schantz, noting the numerous applications for Executive Director, asked Harte whether anyone has applied to be admitted as a patient. Harte answered that no patient solicitations can be made until the state grants a license.
Another zoner, Linda Shay Gardener, disputed Harte's claims that patients would undergo extensive counseling, noting that the plan shows only two counseling rooms and one office. Harte responded that most of this would occur in a group setting and in an open area.
|The zoners' huddle: all they need is a football|
"Nice try," joked Atiyeh, after one of Spadoni's failed objections.
But on his fifth swing, Spadoni sent one over the fence, temporarily ending the presentation for the second application filed by Atiyeh.
|Everyone wants to testify|
Just as Attorney Malkames began to question Harte, Spadoni objected, noting inconsistencies between the actual application and the advertisement. "We tumbled off the road and into the weeds," said the Bethlehem barrister. "The advertisement does not match the application."
After reviewing the advertisement, Malkames agreed, and suggested that the matter be advertised again. Abe Atiyeh was a little reticent until he was assured his application will still be considered under the old zoning ordinance.
Testimony will continue on the 2110 Center Street application on October 16, 6 PM. Two days later, zoners will continue with the request for a drug and alcohl rehab at 2349 Linden Street.
Zoning Hearing Board member Bill Fitzpatrick disclosed that he is a teacher at the Arts Acadmey Charter School, which is a tenant in a building owned by Atiyeh. Fitzpatrick stated he saw no reason to recuse himself, but would step aside if others objected. Nobody did. Fitzpatrick has voted against nearly every Atiyeh application.