Aside from the press and City staff, the only person present was Dr. Kanofsky.
Tony Hanna, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority, was pinch-hitting for building inspector Craig Hynes, who was unavailable. Prior to the hearing, Hanna exchanged pleasantries with the 77 year-old physics professor, who was recently fined $30,700 and sentenced to five days in jail over continuing code violations at the Goodman building. "I'll fix it," Kanofsky said. "Don't put me in jail." Then, turning to a member of the press, Dr.Kanofsy said, "I must have 500 violations."
Once the hearing got underway, Hanna explained that, under the provisions of the Urban Redevelopment Law, this vacant tract can be considered blighted because:
(1) it's a public nuisance because the City constantly has to notify Kanofsky of garbage and weeds; (2) it's an attractive nuisance because people who see garbage there will be inclined to dump there as well; (3) it's a vacant or unimproved lot in a predominantly built-up-neighborhood, which by reason of neglect or lack of maintenance has become a place for accumulation of trash and debris, or a haven for rodents or other vermin; (4) it's been tax delinquent for more than two years; and (5) The liens against the property exceed its fair market value."It took me all of two hours to clean up what little it of trash is there," said Kanofsky. "I'm 77 and cleared the lot." He said he was unaware he had let his taxes go so long, and told the Commission he's in no positiontopay some of these liensbecause he wasjust fired by Lehigh University "after 50 years of devoted service."
Though the City has barricaded this area while it attempts to stabilize the building next door, Dr. Kanofsky put his finger to his lips to make a "Shhh" sound and said he broke into the barricade with his weed whacker.
Kanofsky smiled as he said this, but not Hanna. "The fence and signs are there for a reason," Hanna told Kanofsky. "That wall is dangerous."
The professor then said that Lehigh and other developers want his property, hinting this might be the real reason why Bethlehem is seeking a blighted designation. But Hanna responded that a blighted designation is just the first step in a long process that could lead to seizure. "Just fix it," said Hanna. "Pay your taxes. we're giving you an opportunity to do this. The last thing we want to do is seize your property."
"I swear I will do better," vowed Kanofsky.