Twice, in 2000 and 2009, Cantelmi tried, and failed, to obtain a use variance for a funeral home in this residential area. His latest proposal is Cantelmi Condominiums, which would entail demolishing Jiralanio's home and replacing it with 21 townhouses, complete with individual driveways and 51 parking spaces.
If Bethlehem's proposed, "user friendly" zoning ordinance is adopted, Cantelmi will no longer need that condo or a use variance. He'll finally be able to operate that funeral home because Bethlehem's Planning Bureau has recommended changing the zoning in that area from residential to light commercial. I'm sure the funeral processions along Rte. 191 will be no inconvenience at all.
Incidentally, Cantelmi is Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan's brother-in-law. That proposed zoning ordinance sure is friendly to him.
That's just one objection voiced repeatedly at First Presbyterian Church on June 28, during one of three public meetings to solicit public input on proposed changes to Bethlehem's zoning. About twenty, mostly skeptical, residents attended.
"I can see this is a sticking point," conceded Planning Bureau Director Darlene Heller, who made the presentation. "I get it. We noted it."
Another sticking point is a change in zoning along Easton Avenue from residential to commercial. When Bethlehem's Planning Bureau first tried that in 2005, thirteen nearby residents complained to City Council that this rezoning would just make "the Stefko-ization" (a reference to the commercial development along Stefko Boulevard) inevitable along Easton Avenue. Every member of City Council echoed those reservations, and the rezoning idea died.
Despite a clear indication from City Council, Heller was adamant. "Our office still believes CL [light commercial] is the appropriate zoning there," she declaimed.
"Unless you're a residential owner out there," grumbled Bethlehem resident Dana Grub. "What you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of the people who live in these neighborhoods."
"We're going to make a note of that and look at it," answered Heller.
Hotel Bethlehem owner Bruce Haines complained about plans to rezone a block at Market and New from residential to commercial. "About five years ago, thirty neighbors got together and spent $50 thousand to keep a bar out of a historic area," he noted, opposed to the idea of rezoning residential districts as commercial.
One unidentified resident complained that the new zoning ordinance is designed "to take care of our preferred property owners," adding that in a light commercial district, business owners can erect five-story buildings next to one-story residences. Heller downplayed that possibility, stating it would require a very large tract and ample provisions for parking.
Bethlehem resident Al Bernotas, currently involved in litigation against Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board, complained that the new ordinance eliminates restrictions on 2-ton commercial vehicles parked in residential neighborhoods. "I don't want any tractor trailer parked next to my property."
Although the proposed zoning ordinance was treated skeptically, many provisions were complimented, including parking lot lighting provisions and shared parking.
Believe it or not, Heller thanked everyone for coming and explained there is no specific timetable for enactment of the zoning ordinance. After receiving input and making changes, the ordinance will be reviewed by neighboring municipalities, school districts and the LV Planning Commission. After that review, the ordinance will go to City Council only if there is a recommendation by the Planning Commission.