Thursday, January 24, 2013
Zoners Nix 5-Story Self-Storage Facility in West Bethlehem
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.