Zoning Officer John Lezoche came under heavy fire. He told Elias Attorney Joe Piperato that, prior to the Elias zoning bill, he had never received a complaint about the market. Four residents disputing that, including Yong Hao, who actually accused Lezoche of making false statements. Lezoche sat there stoically, but Chairman Gus Loupos was offended. Banging the gavel, he told Hao, "That's uncalled for," and cautioned him against "character assassination."
Lezoche was even grilled over old zoning records until Zoning Solicitor Mickey Thompson decided that a City lawyer should represent Lezoche, and the zoning officer's testimony was suspended.
Elias engineer Steve cPany testified that an expansion is necessary to address a steeply sloped loading dock and provide for a larger warehouse. He rejected the notion that Elias would be a distribution center, and predicted that the larger warehouse would actually result in fewer deliveries. He repeatedly stressed that the current loading dock is unsafe, calling it an "accident waiting to happen."
Piperato also attempted to introduce a petition in support of the expansion, signed by 1,000 people. "There's been representations here that Attorney Spadoni is here on behalf of the residents of the City of Bethlehem," and Piperato offered the petition to show widespread public support.
An angry Chris Spadoni bellowed, "Mr. Piperato just said - and we'll have the court reporter read it back - that I represented that I represent the citizens of Bethlehem. That has never been said. And I would ask that he stand corrected on the record." Spadoni is Bethlehem City Council Solicitor, and that is how he introduced himself.
Attorney Dave Backenstoe objected to the petition as well. "That is absolutely inadmissible hearsay. ... You don't know how those signatures were obtained. You don't know where they were obtained. You don't even know if those are residents of the City of Bethlehem.
Piperato backed off, withdrew the petition and rested.
Guishu Fang, who lives next door to Elias, contradicted Pany's assertion that there is only one tractor trailer. She presented several pictures showing three different trucks, though she had no pictures of the three trucks together. She complained about constant truck noise, day and night, as well as fumes, adding she cannot even go into her back yard. An expansion to a three-bay loading dock and larger warehouse will only aggravate these problems, she claimed.
Fang indicated she has complained to Elias about garbage that already litters her back yard. "They never call me. They never come. They have my phone number." An expanded operation will just add to the debris. "Can you imagine what will happen when they put this huge warehouse and loading dock there?" she asked. Pany had earlier testified that Elias intends to create a fenced and covered dumpster site, located farther away from Fang's property than the current location.
Growing increasingly emotional, Fang complained about a proposed three-bay loading dock. "They want to move this loading dock to my bedroom side because there's nowhere else to build and because they have a hardship. How much hardship they created for me!"
Some of the audience applauded when she was finished testifying.
Al Bernotas, another voice of opposition, complained of tractor trailers idling at Elias. Although he lives 500' away, he sated closer neighbors will be affected by "dumpsters, trucks, diesel fumes, traffic, unsafe conditions for kids going to school, the whole thing."
At the end of the night, Chairman Gus Loupos thanked everyone, and stated that whatever zoners decide, it will upset 50% of the people. "We don't have a happy medium in what we do," he lamented.
During the hearing, the crackle of a radio could be heard from time to time as a uniformed police officer stood in the back of Town Hall. Asked why he was there, he smiled and said, "Babysitting duty."
Gus Loupos Lays Smackdown With His Gavel
Spadoni Does Not Represent the People. He represents City Council, damn it!
Guishu Fang: Petite, but Powerful