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Friday, May 27, 2011

A PJ Whelihan By Any Other Name

Despite flashes of white light in an otherwise black sky, accompanied by a wind that rattled the windows, Hanover Township's Zoning Hearing Board heard three appeals on May 26. One of those was storm all by itself, involving three pontificating lawyers, a calculator-wielding engineer and what seemed like hundreds of exhibits. The subject of this major controversy? A 41 sq ft facade sign at PJ Whelihan's Pub and Restaurant, scheduled to open in July at the site of the defunct Bennigan's and Paddy's, located at 3395 High Point Blvd.

Under current zoning, only 16 sq ft signs are permitted, but PJ Whelihan's Ray McCausland testified not once, but about forty times, that it's nearly impossible to see it from Schoenersville Road, the main drag in that area. In addition, Whelihan lawyer Erich Schock produced photograph after photograph, from different seasons of the year, to prove his point. "A sign only has usefulness when it is visible," he claimed, as he buried Hanover Township lawyer Leo DeVito in a mountain of photographs and maps.

DeVito eventually dug his way out and politely cross-examined McCausland about a sign that states, "P.J. Whelihan's Pub and Restaurant Established 1983." Although McCausland insisted that's part of their branding and the name had to be that long, Schock eventually saw the PJ Whelihan on the wall, and dropped "Established 1983."

With that change, Zoners Joan Rosenthal and Vince Horvath approved a variance allowing a sign that will be nearly twice what is allowed by the zoning ordinance. Chairman Paul Balla dissented.

In another appeal, Bethlehem's Director of Water and Sewer Resources, David Brong, asked zoners to waive a zoning requirement that his home and other improvements be no more than 22% of his 24,315 sq ft lot at 1204 Alyssa Place. With the patios Brong would like to install, his footprint would be 26%.

Attorney Joe Piperato, representing Brong, produced evidence that 34% of Brng's lot will be woodland, even though only 20% is required. In addition, he established through Keystone Consulting Engineer David Martin that, whether the footprint is 22% or 26% will make no difference in destroying any trees.

Brong's appeal, characterized by Chairman Balla as "cut and dry," was unanimously granted.

In their final case, Metro PCS was granted a variance for a telecommunications facility atop a 78' PPL tower at 5325 Northgate Drive, which will be extended in height to 85'8". Attorney Nicholas A. Cucé, Jr., representing Metro PCS, agreed with DeVito's request that a steady red beacon be placed atop the tower.

Notice of this proposed tower was provided to Lehigh Valley International Airport, and there was no response.

Metro PCS is a no-contract wireless provider, and this tower is its first in the Lehigh Valley.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is where Zoning is too cumbersome. Here, you have a business location that has failed in two iterations. No one can see the thing from the street. Hanover required the developer to install a berm which makes the property more or less invisible to motorists. It's just like with the Regal Movie Theater on 378. The Zoning Ordinance would not allow them to put a sign out near the street to advertise which movies were playing. Now, the place is going out of business. Sure we do not want billboards all over the place, but why allow commercial activity and not allow them to advertise their location?