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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If You Build It, Will Bethlehem Zoners Approve?

An Emmaus stonemason learned the hard way on February 23 that, before started a building project in Bethlehem, it's best to have the appropriate clearances. Stavros Kiprizlis told Bethlehem zoners he was "frustrated" after waiting two years for a zoning officer to review blueprints for an addition that would create a two-family home at 612 Cherokee Street. He actually had to replace plans after they were lost. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and just build it.

Five Cherokee Street neighbors, including civil rights activist Esther Lee, spoke strongly against any variances. "The proper credentials were never secured," she complained. "It looks horrendous. And I suggest that it come down."

Lee also blamed the City. "I heard drilling and sawing and I don't know what else. If I could see it, I don't know why others couldn't have aborted what you were doing."

Echoing Lee's concerns, Cherokee Street resident Francis Martinez argued that a favorable decision would mean that "any contractor in the City can do anything they want, come here, and you people say 'OK, this is fine, we're going to let it go.'"

Representing Kiprizlis, Bethlehem Attorney Jim Holzinger eloquently argued, "We're trying to resolve this in a way that is not going to be too damaging to the neighbors. ... This construction went on without a permit for an extended period of time. Two wrongs don't make a right."

But in response to questions from ZHB member Kenneth Kraft, Kiprizlis acknowledged that in his 30 years as a masonry contractor, he's pulled many permits and is familiar with the process. Zoners quickly, and unanimously, rejected his application for approval of a two-family dwelling.

In other business, zoners approved an attached carport for Joan Johns at 1540 Siegried Street after hearing testimony that there are already thirty carports in the neighborhood.

They also gave the green light for Adam Hazan to construct a parking lot for a three-family dwelling at 1512 E. Sixth Street, even though the lot will be only 7', instead of the required 15', away from another home. Next door neighbor Carl Postupack complained that gas fumes already enter his home at night when he listens to "Coast to Coast" on talk radio, even when the windows are shut. He also presented a lengthy, hand-written narrative complaining that prior owners had as many as 35 people living at the property at one time.

Although zoners ruled for Hazan, member Bill Fitzpatrick suggested that appropriate buffering be placed around the parking lot to mitigate any fumes.


Anonymous said...

This is far more serious than some may think.
If this guy, as you wrote, can do whatever he wants, why have a zoning or building standards office at all!
Just let it be a free-for-all.
Some say that's how all governments should work. Do away with zoning so neighbors don't believe they'll be protected. Let is be an All-Mans land. These Cherokee homes are more than a century old, perhaps two centuries actually, rich is Bethlehem history. To destroy the integrity of this block is inexcusable. Kudos to the neighbors for standing up to protect Bethlehem's heritage.

Anonymous said...

on the other hand, what gives you the right to tell me what I can do with my private property?

And, it's precisely zoning and historic district laws that make housing unaffordable for low income people. I thought you dems, libs, and progs were friends to poor people

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:57 go live on the outskirts of the badlands. Maybe the Beck Commune needs a village idiot. In a city we need rules and expect them.

Fact is why have any zoning laws at all if you keep grantung every exception in the book.

Do you jpb pr move on.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

your right, GET RID OF ZONING - THEY ARE PREJUDICE - they are on the Mayor's side. They said they bring money into Bethlehem but that isn't their job. They are useless. Ken Kraft doesn't know what he is taking about and neither does Kilpatrick. They are all in Mickey Thompson's puppet pocket. He is the real boss and he gets what he wants because I think of his connections to very dangerous/influential people. He has an office and works for a developer. Talk about conflict of interest!!!! what a JOKE Bethlehem Zoning Board is...