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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 09, 2016

Nazareth Zoning Change Draws Rebuke From Hayden Phillips

Hayden Phillips
At their May 2 business meeting, Nazareth Borough Council unanimously voted to advertise changes to their Zoning ordinance that will essentially ban first floor apartments in the business district. Though Northampton County Council has no say in these local decisions, Council member Hayden Phillips nevertheless took a swing at what he calls a "a heavy-handed" ordinance at a recent Council Committee meeting.
"I really don't like when government officials tell business people who are investing their money, their maintenance - they're actually putting their skin in the game - and then have an official tell them, 'That's not the best use of your building.' I think a businessman who is coming up with $1.5 million for a building, he probably is in a good position to day, 'Yeah, this is what we should build for.'"
Ordinances that ban apartments on the first floor of business districts are rather common in urban environments.

As explained by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission,
"Mixed use buildings are most appropriate in town and village centers, whether existing or part of a planned mixed use development. ... [T]hey represent a means of increasing the intensity of the use.

"Live-work buildings are a specialized kind of mixed use buildings. The concept is that the first floor would contain the store, office or business. The floors above would provide the living quarters for the proprietors and their families. The arrangement provides convenient access between work and home. Typically, live-work buildings are listed as a separate permitted use within the list of allowed uses."
Bethlehem is one such community. DCED Deputy Director Amy Burkett rather smugly dismissed Phillips's concerns, and went on to say that Bethlehem's next tricks will be "landlord training" because government knows best. She even told this rugged individualist that she wants everyone on the same page. Phillips rather politely let her go

DCED Director Alicia Karner was a little better, telling Phillips it is "more profitable" to concentrate businesses and on the first floor.

Nazareth's lance Colondo and John Samus
Nevertheless, Phillips has a very valid point. Zoning does place limits on what a property owner may do. While a restriction on first floor apartments might be a good idea in Bethlehem's business district, does it make sense in Nazareth?

Ray Orwig, who owns a lot of the properties in the business district, is justifiably concerned, He told Council that many of those buildings are long and narrow buildings. While it might make sense to ban apartments on the front of the property, how about the rear? .Solicitor Al Pierce, who was doing his best to avoid discussing the matter, ultimately stated that Orwig could seek relief from a zoning hearing board.

This totally defeats the whole point. The ordinance, if Nazareth Borough Council wants it, should be crafted in such a way as to minimize zoning appeals, instead of encouraging requests for variances. The oirdionance should be amended before adoption.

In addition to a disdain for business owners, Nazareth Borough Council and Council member John Samus, in particular, have an animus against citizens who own no real estate. This is an anti-tenant ordinance, At a recent meeting, Samus went so far as to instruct all members of the audience who own real estate to raise their hands. When I failed to do so, he specifically asked me to confess that I own no real estate. His attitude betrays a classism in which only the landed gentry matter.

Despite the snobbery of Nazareth Borough Council, this is probably a good idea. But the proposed ordinance should be amended to address Orwig's concerns and also, to allow a residential use in a business district first floor so long as the resident is using an adjacent building for commercial purposes.

At one time, not all that long ago, Nazareth Floral was located on Main Street, and the owners of that business lived in the adjacent home. There is also an optometrist who lives in one building and conducts her business next door.

Permitting this kind of use would still serve the goal of live-work buildings.


Anonymous said...

Are their meetings so bad that they have to have the snicker, snicker so called police commissioner puppet at their backs? What happened Randy? You used to be a good cop.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Miller sits in the back at every meeting. Before him it was Trachta.

Anonymous said...

Hayden Phillips should let Nazareth do whatever the hell Nazareth wants to do, and pay attention to that is going on at the county level. He's always climbing up on a soapbox and making political statements. In case it's none of his damned business.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is a matter for Nazareth, but Phillips has every right to express himself. Like it or no, the First Amendment exists.

Arlene V. Klocek said...

Hayden Phillips is right. He is a smart, well informed individual on County Council.
Some people hear the lies and deception for so long and can no longer accept Truth.
Think, think and do right.

Anonymous said...

What a pathetic group of elected officials in the boro of Nazareth. Time for the community to vote these fools out. as far as I know, people, regardless of their position , residency, housing situation, job, sex , religion and so on, have the God given right to speak their mind. Funny when those who oppose what is being said , attack the person who made the comment instead of addressing the real issue. Seems is the standard operating procedure in Nazareth and many other little oligarchies.

Anonymous said...

What the fuck ❗ Bernie I smell Dogg shit.Don't tell me Deputy Dogg is back in town. Or is counsel talking out is asshole . Again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. I'm I right Bernie,isn't that the way these assholes work. Sorry your right Bernie. They don't work for us,or with us. Only against us. Personally,I think they are co-k suc-ers . All except for one,she smokes cigars. So we heard,or maybe just maybe she likes tuna fish sandwich's,alot of them. FIRE COUNSEL stickers are now available at the chief Yosemite Sam mans cave.

Anonymous said...

Nazareth: to quote Jack Nicholson's Joker "this town needs an enema!"

Anonymous said...

He sits in the back of the room like the dog shit he is stinking up the place.

Anonymous said...

POLICE COMMISIONER? Does he have a clue how stupid he is an is laughed at and made fun of y his peers?