Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atiyeh Swings and Misses A Third Time For Bethlehem Rehab

David Harte describes site
For the third time, Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board has shot down a drug and alcohol residential rehab center located near a school. At their December 10 meeting, following a five-hour hearing, zoners unanimously denied a "special exception" for a 47-bed facility located at 2349 Linden Street. That's the site of the former Moose and Bug Florist, and is located approximately 400' from Spring Garden Elementary School.

Nearly forty neighbors attended this hearing. Many expressed concerns about a diminished quality of life, increased traffic and a potentially dangerous situation.

In addition to neighbors, Bethlehem Area School District administrator Dean Donaher opposed the proposal on behalf of the school district. Spring Garden Elementary has an enrollment of 563 students, according to Donaher, making it one of the largest schools in the district. Between 60-65% of these children walk to school.

In two previous appeals, developer Abe Atiyeh was unsuccessful in pitching drug and alcohol rehabs near Bethlehem Catholic High School. In all three appeals, Attorneys Mark Malkames and Blake Marles, representing Atiyeh, insisted that there was no factual basis for these concerns. Marles called it speculation, while Malkames spoke of "inappropriate fears of the unknown." But Diane Mason, at the December 10 hearing, offered several examples in which residents and employees at voluntary rehabs have stolen cars, broken into nearby homes, and used drugs.

After hearing this testimony, neighbor German Berrio told zoners he has twelve grandchildren who will no longer be able to play in the back yard next to the proposed facility. "That's going to be the end of my children visiting my home," he protested.

Representing several of the concerned neighbors, Bethlehem Attorney Jeremy Clark argued Atiyeh failed to submit a specific plan of operation. He added that the developer has no track record with drug and alcohol rehabs, and failed to reach out to school officials or neighbors.

"That's a two-way street," answered Malkames, who countered that nobody from the schools or neighborhood had reached out to Atiyeh. He also argued that since a rehab is already a permitted use, opponents would need to show consequences beyond what could be seen at a typical rehab. He has vowed to appeal this decision.

51 comments:

Bill said...

Curious about the testimony alleging that employees of rehabs steal cars, break into houses and such. Who is this person and what is their source? It is possible, but I am aware of physicians at local hospitals overdosing in bathrooms during work hours and police officers who have used drugs. Should we avoid hospitals and police officers? Not really sure Atiyeh's plan is a good idea, but denigrating people in recovery is pointless and misleading.

Late night tweaker said...

The concerned citizens should realize that quite possibly one of their children or relatives may benefit from these facilities in the future. Characterizing addicts and the employees of treatment facilities as dangers to the community is so misguided, guess it would be better to continue the cycle of revolving door prison stays for our addicted populous.

Anonymous said...

no one cares

Anonymous said...

I'm dead, please stop.

In your mercy,

Bethlehem, the rehab horse

Anonymous said...

Does Atiyeh purposefully choose business opportunities and locations to alarm and scare citizens? Why not put these rehabs in non-residential areas? Does he do this on purpose? Seems so to me and that may explain his constant denials.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bill, the person I refer to had several news accounts, most from NY, involving residents at what appear to be voluntary rehabs. In one case, a resident left and stole someone's car nearby. In another, a resident left and broke into someone's home to take car keys and then drove off with the car. A third incident involved a Montgomery County and a rehab nurse who was caught using with one of the former residents. There was also an incident involving a violent assault against a rehab worker. These cases are 1 - 2 years old. It is not statistical evidence, but anecdotal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:49, Under the ordinance in existence then, the only place permitted by special exception was in residential areas. That's not Abe's fault.

Anonymous said...

The Rajah of Rezoning has decieded to jihad Bethleehm. This guy is like a boil on the butocks.

Anonymous said...

1049
Bernie knows this but chooses to ignore it in his response:

Atiyeh's interest in drug and mental health facilities arose when his large residential plan for center and dewberry was rejected and every action since then appears to be spiteful and petty

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's see. Abe must have spent over $100k just on his first proposal at the Cavalry Baptist Church. After that, it's at least another $100k on attempts to develop his property. He's been shot down on rehabs 3x. He's lost out on an attempt to relocate his offices at one of these sites. And in one place where he is allowed to build by right, the Planning Commission arbitrarily rejected his plans,
knowing full well they would be reversed on appeal. So who is being spiteful and petty?

Now I understand that most people oppose a rehab in their back yard. I believe it is an unfounded fear, but that makes it no less real. I get that. But that is no excuse for this vilification of Atiyeh. He is a good man who is trying to make money, as is his right, and who is also trying to make this a better world.

I would rather be in a foxhole with him than most other people I know.

He's also a father. On Sunday, quite by accident, I met Abe's very attractive wife and daughter at Wegmans. They did not nail me with a taser until they realized I was a bottom-feeding blogger. They were nice people. His daughter and son, who are old enough to read this nonsense, don't need to read anonymous hatred about their own flesh and blood. So lease knock it off. I realize haters gotta' be haters, but most people from Bethlehem really are good and decent people and will honor this request. They have more class than I, for one thing.

Anonymous said...

He had approval for assisted living at center and dewberry. And assisted living is a business he has experience in. Then he asks for a variance for a residential development. Was it over a 100 units? And when the Zoning bd said no it has been drug rehabs and psychiatric hospitals where no one ever thought to put them before. His desire to help the addicted was born. If he was ever in that business before it would seem less spiteful and bullying.

Not Abe's fault? All Abe's fault. And yes his family is lovely and he may be a great father. His civic mindedness? Missing

Bernie O'Hare said...

His desire to help the addicted, and make money at the same time, existed before. The West Easton Treatment Center is proof of that. But don't let the facts get in the way of your irrational, and anonymous, hatred.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to disagree he says but disagree and you are a hater

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are a hater. That's pretty clear. In addition to calling Atiyeh names, his motives and integrity are challenged. And when I point to your anonymous personal attacks, you amazingly pretend you are just disagreeing. No, you are a hater.

Anonymous said...

BO
You were one of the first to point out that the rehab center was a way to put pressure on the city-

August 2011

." Atiyeh denies he is trying to pressure City officials into accepting his luxury apartment idea, but has coincidentally contributed $3,000 to Mayor John Callahan's campaign fund over the past year.

What happened to your powers of discernment

Anonymous said...

Did you hate him when you questioned his motive?

Anonymous said...

BO:
It's pretty hard to feel sorry for Abe Atiyeh,
Sept 2009

Did you grow some empathy in your old age?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I pointed to facts and did not engage in needless or anonymous name-calling as you have done. And at that time, I certainly did question his motives. And I identified myself. My comments came before the West Easton Treatment Center. Before Atiyeh spent what must be hundreds of thousands of dollars to get approval for a residential rehab. At this point, it's hard to argue his intentions are anything other than what he has proposed. You don't spend that kind of money just to be a vindictive bastard. That kind of thinking is just illogical. It's the work of a hater, not a rational person.

Anonymous said...

You questioned his motives. I still question his motives, calling his actions spiteful and petty. You referred to a campaign contribution to the mayor without using the "bribe" word but still calling him out on it.
I question his motives-doesn't mean I hate him. Hate the sin...

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's because you are a hater, not a logical person. No logical person could conclude that Atiyeh has any intentions other than exactly what he has proposed, especially after he has spent so much money. But logic is never a strong point among haters.

Anonymous said...

And West Easton is an alternative to a jail as was the Bethlehem Twp project. He surely knows how to find and buy property for his ideas so why is so focused on the areas near Spring Garden and Becahi? What could be his motive? He bought the property near Spring Garden after center and dewberry was shot down. Same with Calvary. What could be his motive?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think the amount of money he has spent answers that question, if the person asking is reasonable. But you are a hater, so hate away. And a hater who is unwilling to take responsibility for your own words. What are your motives?

Anonymous said...

. Again, why is this area of the Valley so important that he buys three parcels near where he was denied 102 residential units for his rehab

Anonymous said...

And you know how much he spent? And you verified that?
And I need to have a motive to call you on your comment that "it's not Abe's fault"? Calling someone a hater who disagrees with you doesn't seem like behavior of someone interested in discourse

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to question his motives, identify yourself so we all know your agenda.

Anonymous said...

Motives are questioned here regularly. But for your comments 99% of all comments are anon. Your rules. Make everyone id themselves and this will be a civil place.

I live in Bethlehem but not close enough that it will affect me. What he is doing is just wrong and it is stunning to look back at your earlier comments about Atiyeh in comparison to today. Money talks, apparently. And you listen.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you look at my comment policy, I clearly state that I delete personal attacks and OT comments at my discretion. If a person is too cowardly to identify himself or herself, that person should not be making a personal attack. I allow a bit more with Abe bc he is colorful and is involved in public policy. But that's no excuse for being illogical in your hatred.

Anonymous said...

Did you hate him (or the Mayor) when you wrote about the campaign contribution' s proximity in time to his proceedings before city agencies?

Bernie O'Hare said...

You have already tried and failed to make this about me. I have already tried and failed to answer a hater with logic and facts.

Anonymous said...

You don't spend that kind of money just to be a vindictive bastard.

You obviously don't know any very wealthy people.

And I don't know this guy from Adam but let's talk about things we read in the news. He constantly gets shot down on his ideas and is relentless in trying to get them through. The ideas are always unsavory ideas and never seem to be sprinkled with anything desirable by the community. He then has the audacity to challenge other projects that are beneficial to the community at large by arguing traffic congestion and other nonsense. I'm sure this person would get the treatment centers if he ever showed anything that all of the community could embrace as a positive impact for everyone. There are plenty of communities he could build those centers but he just needles over and over again to build in places where it simply is not wanted. Some people get the hint, others don't.

Anonymous said...

anonymous name-calling

I don't see any name calling.

Anonymous said...

I think the amount of money he has spent answers that question, if the person asking is reasonable. But you are a hater, so hate away. And a hater who is unwilling to take responsibility for your own words. What are your motives?

Dude, this is the problem. You never address counter arguments. You just dismiss them with school yard rebuttals. This makes me believe you are not capable of rational discussion or debate. Everyone is an enemy who does not see your point of view, everyone an "asshole" or a "hater" and you use your own blog's anonymous posting policy as a crutch not to address legitimate points.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then you must be blind. Scroll above and you'll seem name-calling, and your factually challenged statements are an anonymous attack on his integrity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You never address counter arguments. You just dismiss them with school yard rebuttals."

Actually, I have addressed your argument, and point out that it is impossible to argue with an illogical hater. And I sign my name.

Anonymous said...

I see some dude calling him the Rajah of rezoning. But that's clearly not the same person making the points you are dismissing. The only name calling I see is you calling people cowards, assholes, and haters.

And if questioning the motives of a millionaire developer has devolved into being a "personal attack", then all hope for discourse is lost.

Shit, the stuff you sling at the millionaire developers in Allentown is now exceedingly hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

The person you are addressing is not me. I am a casual observer. And again with the crutch of your own anonymous commenting policy.

What a better blogger you would be if you actually engaged your readers in reasoned debate. Instead you insult them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You obviously don't know any very wealthy people."

I do, and they don't get that way by throwing money away.

"And I don't know this guy from Adam but let's talk about things we read in the news. He constantly gets shot down on his ideas and is relentless in trying to get them through. The ideas are always unsavory ideas and never seem to be sprinkled with anything desirable by the community. He then has the audacity to challenge other projects that are beneficial to the community at large by arguing traffic congestion and other nonsense."

You finally made a fair attack, one that does not challenge his integrity or engage in name-calling. Good for you. I knew you culd do it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I see some dude calling him the Rajah of rezoning. But that's clearly not the same person making the points you are dismissing."

There's more than that, and how am I to know you are not the same person? If you choose to be anonymous, suffer the risk that all derogatory comments will be attributed to you. Even without the name-calling, you anonymously attacked his integrity. You did finally manage to make an attack that did not. Don't slide again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What a better blogger you would be if you actually engaged your readers in reasoned debate. Instead you insult them."

Hey, then don't read the blog. It's that simple, dude. I'm not twisting your arm to be here. You can organize a boycott if you like and can even send emails to people.

Anonymous said...

Obviously I have the option of not reading the blog. Just trying to give you some helpful advice on being a better person. Take what you will.

Anonymous said...

Ask any parent of a kid who attended Moravian Academy with an Atiyeh child about whether they throw away money. The birthday parties for the elementary school age daughter were outrageously lavish yet sad as they were held in the cafeteria of one of the "manors".

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or is our bottom feeder crankier since the election? Or did it start when Angle lost?

Anonymous said...

Bernie is pissed. He jumped on the Callahan campaign float just as Callahan is jumpomg off. Reibman will be the next County Executive and Bernie will have to stop taking his nude baths in the public restrooms.

Abe is just being Abe. His public service is to see how much public money he can get in his pockets, while wearing wooden hats.

Anonymous said...

Atiyeh has lost his way. He once had good ideas and provided interesting services that filled gaps. His assisted living seems to do well and some other stuff he has. In the past few years, he seems to have jumped off the deep end and tries to be a maverick for development rights but is just screwing with people for enjoyment. The City will spend money to the cows come home to deal with him. His wasted money would be better spent on the homeless, elderly, disabled, veterans instead of playing games with local government.

Anonymous said...

Good point. His "development" always seems to be laden with guaranteed government funding. I'm hoping he is a Democrat since he seems keen on sucking the teat of government while fighting them at every turn.

Anonymous said...

Wondering what people think of Abe's signage at Center and Dewberry

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am unable to think of one Atiyeh project that ever involved government funding.

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