Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zoners Nix 5-Story Self-Storage Facility in West Bethlehem

Despite the absence of Chairman Gus Loupos, the remaining four members of Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board decided five separate zoning appeals at their January 23 meeting. Four applicants walked away happy. But not Vince Fantozzi. His request for a self-storage facility at the vacant Straub car dealership was shot down unanimously.

Fantozzi was up against City Hall. Literally. Assistant City Solicitor Jennifer Doran intervened, and Planning Director Darlene Heller testified that the five-story proposal at 11th and Broad was simply too large. She also objected to a 24-hour self-storage business operating in a mixed-use neighborhood that includes many home.

But West Bethlehem businessman Bob Young, who owns Bethlehem Gallery of Floors, told zoners that Fantozzi's proposal is just what the West Broad Street corridor needs. "That blight is continuing to grow like a cancer in that part of Bethlehem," he complained.

Realtor Dick Adams noted that attempts to market the vacant property over the past 2 1/2 years have been futile. But both Ambre Studio owner Evelyn Beckman and West Bethlehem activist Bill Scheirer argued that Bethlehem can do better. "We don't have to take whatever exists," said Beckman.

After being turned down, Fantozzi stated he has no plan to appeal. He owns seven other self-storage facilities in the Lehigh Valley.

In sharp contrast to the unanimous rejection of a five-story self-storage facility at 11th and Broad, zoners quickly agreed to a wine bar adjacent to The Wooden Match restaurant on West Lehigh Street, next to Sand Island.

Restaurateurs Steve DiDonato and Vince Randazzo also propose a high end deli at the location.

Realtor Shawn Donahue told zoners that, though the property is located in an institutionally-zoned district, the wine bar is "the most viable" project presented.

Zoner James Schantz recused himself from the Lehigh Street hearing.

In other business, all four zoners agreed to allow Jerry Horst to erect a 127 sq. ft Chevy sign at his car dealership at 1124 Hellertown Road. Horst explained that his business is dwarfed by large signs from nearby Wendys and Turkey Hill. He told zoners that a larger sign would customers see his business with enough time to turn safely into it instead of slamming on the brakes on busy Main Street.

In a hearing that lasted just seven minutes, zoners approved a dimensional variance that will allow Carmen Huertas to build a small deck at the rear of her home.

Finally, they gave Jose Rodriguez a green light for a first floor grocer and second floor rooming house at 300 Hobart Street. Rodriguez had this zoning approval years ago, but leased the property to a tenant who wanted to open up a daycare. That never happened, and zoners ruled that the property's previous use would therefore remain intact.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

He should watch when the new interchange goes in at Tatamy and by a piece of proprerty there. That interchange started under the Reibman Administration and will produce thousands of jobs for the area. Why don't you give credit where credit is due. Thank Reibman for that brainchild.

Anonymous said...

The newspaper cited Reibman for bringing Eceonomic Development with one million dollars in seed money to South Side Bethlehem. Reibman is solid on Economic Development.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Rte 33 Interchange was started long after Reibman was out of office, but go ahead and take credit for Dave Colver's hard work. That's all you do, Glenn.

Anonymous said...

The bond project has allowed many of these projects to bear fruit. You are kidding yourself if you think O'Hare will ever give the guy any credit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The bond project did not fund the Rte 33 Interchange, so you are taking credit for something you did not do, and it remains to be seen whether anyone should be taking credit for it.

Anonymous said...

The idea of the Tatamy interchange has been around for a while. It predated Reibman, but Reibman did try to get funding for it in the initial version of the bond. Ultimately, he scrapped that facet.

And now you know.

and why this is in a thread about Bethlehem Zoning is beyond me...

Anonymous said...

Who are the nitwits that started this off-topic thread, and Bernie, why do you let it happen. You should delete their comments...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed I should have deleted the 3 AM troll.