Friday, September 09, 2011

Bethlehem Zoners Host Re-Run of Elias Saga

September 8, 2011. A busy day. Over 100,000 people were ordered from their homes in Wilkes-Barre and Binghamton, as a raging Susquehanna River reached flood stage. President Obama presented a $450 billion jobs plan, to get America back to work. Air Rodgers threw three first-quarter touchdown passes as Green Bay tangled with the New Orleans Saints in an NFL season kickoff that seemed unlikely just a few short weeks ago. And the new television season is underway. But on the second floor of the Bethlehem Public Library, the Zoning Hearing Board was doing a rerun. It conducted yet another hearing in the case that just won't go away. City Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni celebrated his 60th birthday there, and at the rate this case is going, he'll be celebrating his 70th birthday there before it's finally over.

Elias Farmers Market, located at 3131 Linden Street, is a family-run grocery specializing in fresh produce at reasonable prices. Its origins go all the way back to 1929, when it was a fruit stand for an 18-acre orchard that sold locally-grown apples, cherries, peaches, plums, and pears. By 2006, when the Elias family took title, the roadside stand had become a market surrounded by beautiful homes, instead of apple trees. It employs twenty people, and at this time of the year, 70% of its produce and fruit is obtained locally.

The Elias family wants to expand its warehouse and loading dock, currently located in a sump that becomes unsafe during rainy or cold weather. "There have been some injuries," explains engineer Steve Pany. But nurse anesthetist Guishu Fang, who lives next store, is concerned about noise, garbage and pollution affecting her quality of life. Johnston Drive resident Al Bernotas shares those concerns, and has even mounted a City Council campaign.

Fang, Bernotas and Walter Ward sued when zoners gave a green light to Elias in 2009. Although Judge Edward Smith agreed with the Zoning Hearing Board, he sent the case back to zoners a year ago for more testimony on a special exception.

After two long nights of emotional testimony last November, the expansion was approved again and appealed again. But in a first for Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor Mickey Thompson, the stenographer lost the transcript for one of those long evenings. Lawyers huddled, and eventually decided the best solution would be a "rerun" of the missing night's testimony.

Attorney Joe Piperato, representing the Elias family, called engineer Steve Pany as his sole witness. Pany explained that 1/3 of the expansion being sought would be for a new, enclosed, ramp to a 3-bay loading dock. Although this ramp will be closer to neighboring homes, the trucks would still be just as far away because there will be a different orientation. He indicated this new design would be safer and would actually reduce the number of deliveries to the market because there would be improved storage capacity. He denied that the expanded warehouse would be used as a wholesale distribution center.

In their previous approval, zoners imposed a restriction prohibiting the use of the warehouse as
a distribution point.

Pany indicated that his design also included air conditioners on the roof of the building, with a noise level of about 60 decibels, the same as the sound of a normal conversation. He considered placing them along the side of the building, but decided against it because of cost, difficulty and appearance.

Representing expansion foes, Hellertown Attorney Dave Backenstoe grilled Pany about the size of the expansion, which can be no more than 50% of its current size. After extensive cross-examination, Pany acknowledged that those buildings had also been rented out and used for a landscaping business and to store classic cars.

Guishu Fang was the sole witness to testify on behalf of expansion foes. She stated she has "nothing against the Elias family," but complained that the noise, vibrations and pollution from diesel tractor trailers will deprive her of the enjoyment of her home. The current loading dock, consisting of only one bay, is located 120' from her property. But the new design, with three bays, is just 40' away. "I will never be able to sleep at night or breathe clean air," she lamented.

But Fang found herself on the hot seat, too. Attorney Piperato used pictures that she took, and kept asking her if this is what the property was like when she moved there. For the most part, it was.

Though represented by Backenstoe, Al Bernotas unsuccessfully attempted to ask questions himself. An objection to this tactic was sustained.

At one point in the evening, the court reporter (a new one) stopped everything because she had run out of tape. "Wait a second!" she exclaimed. ... Five times.

"Don't tell me it's happening again" cried out Zoning Solicitor Mickey Thompson, who was worried that there might have to be a rerun of the rerun.

But the reporter quickly produced a new tape and the show went on.

At the end of another long night, zoners decided to review the transcripts. They will meet in executive session at their September 28 meeting, and announce a decision.
Blogger's Note: The pic accompanying this blog shows Guishu (Sue) Fang answering a Dave Backenstoe question. In the background are various members of the Elias family. Najwa Elias looks amused. But her husband, holding his face in his hand, looks like he's ready for this case to end.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

What this entire episode really indicates is who but the wealthy can afford to hire zoning expert attorneys. Can only imagine the billing hours the Elias Family pays.
Four years and running.

Bernie, Please elaborate on the testimony about cars and landscapers?
What does that mean in terms of the issue at hand? Thanks.

Jon Geeting said...

Al Bernotas sure has a weak view of private property rights for a Republican. There's definitely no "free market" justification for what he's doing here. I think this puts the lie to the idea that there's some kind of "libertarian" interests motivating the Tea Party people. You're hearing a lot of empty talk from these folks about free markets and private property in the abstract, but here you have a situation where a real life business wants to expand, and there's Al Bernotas with the regulations. It's amazing how quickly the commitment to strong property rights gives way to suburban identity politics.

Anonymous said...

I went through a two year zoning battle myself in West Easton.

I wanted to see what all the smoke was about, and support my friend AL. I think its common sense to get your neighborhood to support you, when you are in a residential district seeking variences.

I made sure that 100% of my neighbors were in support of me, and if even one was not, I offered to drop the petition.

The Elias family should have sat down with Fang to come up with a solution that works for her too.It seems that they want all or nothing.


Trish

Anonymous said...

It is kinda amusing that Bernotas can hold the Libertarian point of view as a principal ... except when it has to do with him. What would that be called? Yeah, that would be hypocrite. Bernotas has taken the hypocritical point of view when he feels it is in his best interest. And BTW, he lives a few blocks away from Elias and would be totally unaffected by the warehouse. Leave these hard working people alone and let them make this reasonable expansion.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Anon 9:48

I live a few blocks away from a pending jail, so I should not care about it.

There is nothing wrong with expanding your business. They could do it, and be good neighbors about it. Seems they could care less about anyone

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Please elaborate on the testimony about cars and landscapers?
What does that mean in terms of the issue at hand?"


Under Bethlehem's zoning, you can expand no more than 150% of your current size. For Elias, they included their main building (11,067 sq ft) as well as two outbuildings (2,717 sq ft and 1,152 sq ft) to conclude that their size was 14,436. The expansion would be to 19,279 sq ft, which would be OK.

But Backenstoe established that the two outbuildings had other uses. One was rented as a landscaping business and the other was used for classic cars. I believe there was also testimony from previous hearings that the buildings were used for storage.

If Backenstoe can persuade a judge that the outbuildings were not used in connection with the business, the expansion might be unlawful bc it would be beyond the 150%. That appears to be his strongest argument, and he made it well. Pany has hit hard on that point last night, although there is testimony that it was used for storage too. I think zoners held off bc they probably want to review the previous testimony.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tricia does not know what she is talking about. First, it makes no difference whether a zoning proposal is popular. It's not a popularity contest, but is determined by the law. Second, it just so happens that the Elias family did reach out to the neighborhood, conducted an open house, and many neighbors attended that open house and support Elias. Third, the Elias family did meet with Fang and tried to address her concerns.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jon Geeting does not know what he is talking about, either. Bernotas is something of a zoning wonk and is a far cry from the tea party or libertarian view of property rights. He is a fiscally conservative R whose views on other matters are somewhat moderate, although Al's sharp tongue gets him in trouble. It is logically dishonest to ascribe views to Al that he does not possess in order to condemn him as a hypocrite. The real hypocrite is Geeting. He holds himself out as an expert on all things local, but attends no meetings, knows no players and lives in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Bernie woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Must be all that cash in that mattress of his preventing a restful sleep.

Try a bank account Bernie, and you may not be such a cranky individual.

Trish

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tricia, I just don't like it when people post factually inaccurate information, whether it is Geeting or you. Your claim that the Elias family made no effort to sit down with Fang or with other neighbors is factually inaccurate. Your argument that zoning should be a popularity contest is also inaccurate. In fact, your claim to be a "friend" to Al Bernotas is also inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

When people fail to compromise in situations such as this, you wind up with a multi-year zoning cesspool like this with winners, losers, and bad blood.

That was all I was trying to point out because I went through the same turmoil with 100% neighbor support but a borough who would not stop intervening.

Compromise and damage control goes a long way, but I wouldnt expect you to understand it, because you are a sick sadist. Leave Al out of it and stop trying to ruin friendships.

Trish

Anonymous said...

THE FOLLOWING EXCEPT WAS TAKEN FROM THE URBAN DICTIONARY


sadist 98 up, 31 down

One who has a sadistic personality disorder which is characterized by deriving satisfaction from the physical or psychological suffering of another person. A person of this type is controlling, likes to humiliate a person in public, disciplines brutally when in a position of power, and likes to intimidate people.
The sadistic parent excessively whipped his child because they forgot to take out the garbage.

Anonymous said...

If Trish had a job, maybe should would have less time on her hands to comment around these parts and would have a better disposition. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Geeting, Al Bernotas is not a Tea Party Member. He is not a conservative. He is a resident of Bethlehem who is involved in a zoning disupute and is running for City Council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tricia, It is impossible to ruin a friendship that does not exist, and you know very well what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ladies and Gentlemen
Do you think putting 3 loading docks for diesel powered tractor trailers as close as 25 feet to resident's property is a right free market practice? Do you think supplying the residents who live next to market with cancer causing Toxic diesel exhaust, vibration, and noise day and night is a humane approach? I am one of neighbors who live behind the Elias Market. Elias market is relocating their current loading docks next to our backyard. Elias Market will build a huge warehouse with all the utilities on rooftop next to our windows. Do you think it will be ok if you live there? Let me make that clear, we are not opposing if they rebuild what you have and make improvement; we are upset because the expansion is too intrusive to our life and beyond the legal limit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:52 Wrote Elias Market will build a huge warehouse with all the utilities on rooftop next to our windows. Do you think it will be ok if you live there?

Liar, you know damn well that the Elias people said that ALL utilities will be put on the HIGHWAY SIDE OF THE PROPERTY. Do you even pay attention to what is going on or do you get all your information from Bernatos?

eckville press said...

"Elias Market will build a huge warehouse with all the utilities on rooftop next to our windows."

next to our windows?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hi Eck,

What the author of that comment meant, I think, is that there will be several air conditioners on the roof, to cool the produce, running on cycles. According to Pany, the sound level is about 60 decibels. I was running a sound meter app from my iPad during last night's hearing, and believe it or not, that was around 65 decibels. But this neighbor is concerned about the noise.

The neighbor is also concerned that, since the loading dock is much closer to her home, she will be suffering from diesel fumes. Pany did state, however, that the orientation of the ramp leading to the dock will be different, and that the trucks would be no closer than they are now.

Let me add that I don't think anybody is misleading anyone. Not Guishu (Sue) Fang, not Al Bernotas, and not the Elias family.

I do not envy the ZHB. Whatever they do, someonecwill be unhappy. They should all become bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bernie, you are doing a good job so far on reporting this event. We thank you for that. Just a few clarification, I hope that will help the readers to understand what is really going on.

You wrote “Pany explained that 1/3 of the expansion being sought would be for a new, enclosed, ramp to a 3-bay loading dock. Although this ramp will be closer to neighboring homes, the trucks would still be just as far away because there will be a different orientation”

Comments:
This is a simple Math issue, total expansion is 8282 SF (4843+3369), the enclosed ramp is 1200 SF, is this still 1/3 of the expansion?
Current loading dock is at least 170 Feet away from any points of neighbor’s property line. The new 3 loading docks will have 25 feet and 40 feet setbacks to two sides of neighbor’s property line. If this is an 18 foot box truck with a diesel engine loading or unloading at the new loading dock, How far will this will be to neighbor’s yard. If this is a tractor trailer with a 53’ trailer, where the exhaust pipe will be? How far will the exhaust pipe be to neighbor’s yard?
Pany’s statement is just another misleading piece of puzzle which is very easy to solve.

You Wrote “Pany indicated that his design also included air conditioners on the roof of the building, with a noise level of about 60 decibels, the same as the sound of a normal conversation”

Comments:
Do you have a window mount air conditioner unit in your apartment or a central air condenser in your yard for the central air? How noisy are they during the summer? Imaging it will be 8 times more than that since Elias Market will have several large ones for 8212 SF warehouse. “ the same as the sound of a normal conversation”, really? are you kidding me? What kind of normal conversation did he talk about? Yelling and screaming out of your lung?

You wrote “But Fang found herself on the hot seat, too. Attorney Piperato used pictures that she took, and kept asking her if this is what the property was like when she moved there. For the most part, it was”

Comments:
Bernie, please remember this, Ms. Fang and neighbors are not fighting for existence of the current market as it is now. What they are fighting for is the EXPANSION -- the New Loading docks, the diesel, the Rooftop Utilities of new Warehouse. It does not matter what the market is now, it is all about what they are going to do next. We recalled that those photos were used for showing current use and distance of existing loading dock and location of the building site for new warehouse will be.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This is a simple Math issue, total expansion is 8282 SF (4843+3369), the enclosed ramp is 1200 SF, is this still 1/3 of the expansion?"

Obviously, no. That is a valid point. I wish that question had been posed to Pany. Perhaps he was referring to the new loading dock and the ramp.

As far as your complaint about the noise generated by roof-mounted ar conditioners, what you are saying is that you don't believe Pany. But no evidence was produced to contradict his assertion.

Finally, much of what Ms. Fang testified to centered on inadequacies in the business as she sees it now. Dure, she thinks the expansion will be worse, but she also was complaining about the business as it operates now. For example, she complained about the garbage. That's what I believe prompted Piperato's questions.

Anonymous said...

to Bernie 10:25am

Please get your stories straight. There has never been testimony that those outbuildings/garages were ever used by Elias or Pichel as storage of product or food for the retail store. You are confusing storage of a rental property for antique cars and landscapers equipment and before that Pichel's trucks. That is the only storage that George Azar himself at the very first hearing ever testified to (please don't guess Bernie). His testimony was that they were not suited for storage of any food or produce and they just wanted to rent them out as Pichel had done also. Do you think they declared it on income tax? One of the garages even had someone living in it at one time. Renting your property in a non-rental zone without permits is also a violation but they were never sited for it and then, oops, mysteriously, they burnt down just when Lezoche would have to enforce what he knew all along - that rental was illegal. BOTTOM LINE, the size of the grocery store should NOT include the rental property buildings that was NEVER used as storage for Elias Market and they should NOT BE GRANTED THE EXPANSION.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Al, I am not guessing, I am recounting what was said at the hearing Thursday evening. Pany's testimony was impeached, but he did say the outbuildings were sometimes used as storage for the store. I no longer recall exactly what was said during the previous hearings. I also must say I don't like the ridiculous suggestion that the Elias family would deliberately burn a building to prevent a zoning enforcement matter. That's just silly, and is the kind of statement that diminishes your cause.

Anonymous said...

If Backenstoe can persuade a judge that the outbuildings were not used in connection with the business, the expansion might be unlawful bc it would be beyond the 150%. That appears to be his strongest argument, and he made it well. Pany has hit hard on that point last night, although there is testimony that it was used for storage too. I think zoners held off bc they probably want to review the previous testimony.

10:25 AM

Thank you Bernie. Now it makes a little more sense.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
The simple fact when buying a house isn't the room plan or the area school or the community, it's zoning. Everywhere one goes, zoning is the battle. Check out online searches. Zoning repeatedly comes up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed. But let's not start accusing people of arson or evading taxes. That's just nonsense and diminishes the neighbors who oppose this expansion. It's also extremely unfair to the Elias family.

Al Bernotas said...

Bernie:

For the record, I have been reading all the comments here on this post, but, I have not commented. This is my only comment. Please do not attribute any comments to me when you do not know the source. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

9:46 PM

Highway side of the roof of the new addition does not mean they are putting it on the old part of the building on Linden Street. Get with the program who ever you are. Noise is Noise is Noise!!!! Compressors on and off - diesel fuel tractor-trailors on an off - pallots dropping - boxes being thrown, dumpsters opening, closing, opening, closing, regular delivery trucks running, cars running, trucks unloading - all amount to Noise - Noise - Noise - fumes - fumes - fumes

LIARS - you want to call someone liars - call the Elias and Pany engineer Liars - Stupid ZHB can't tell a lie from a truth.

None of that matters anyway - the size of the addition is illegal and they mislead everyone including the Judge and the addition shouldn't happen - what they should do is clean up the place and fix the loading dock (they should have done this years ago if they thought it wasn't right but they choose not to). How come OSHA hasn't gone there anyway? It is already beyond the legal size it should be WITHOUT AN ADDITION. GIVE IT UP ELIAS'S!!!

Anonymous said...

TO JON GEETING: what do you have against Al Bernotas and why do you care what goes on here in Bethlehem when you live in NY? Who planted you on this blog? JC?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Al, my apologies. I mistakenly used your name bc you posted a comment earlier. I'm sure you'd agree that it is ridiculous to start throwing arson and tax evasion charges around.

Al Bernotas said...

Bernie - Apology accepted. I do post to your blog, occasionally. I did not comment at all to this particular post, until my 11:49 AM comment.

With regard to arson and tax evasion. As far as I know there is no evidence of tax evasion. The fire was suspicious, and I believe it is still an open arson investigation, although it may be closed because of the statute of limitations. If a death were involved, the case would never close. I have reviewed the Fire Marshall's report. The fire started in the middle of the garage, with an accelerant, and the garage doors were locked from the outside. It was allegedly arson.

And with regard to tax evasion, that is for the Elias's and the IRS. Me, personally, I pay all my taxes and I sleep well at night. The underground economy and cash payments for rent are part of life, and probably too small an issue for the IRS. Do I have suspicions, yes. Do I care, no. There are bigger issues for me to deal with, like cutting my grass, and weeding around the yard. Oh, and the fiscal mismanagement, and malfeasance at City Hall.

I can tell you this, quite a few people gave testimony at the Zoning Hearing Board meeting, and the Zoning Hearing Board has to decide which testimony is credible, and which is not. But it is my opinion that the ZHB is lopsided and biased toward the Elias Farmers Market, and, the ZHB has tin ears, blinders, and low intelligence. Mickey Thompson misleads them, and they follow like lemmings. I do not trust their decision making capability, and will not trust the ZHB until all current members are replaced, with maybe the exception of Bill Fitzpatrick. And Mickey Thompson needs to be fired. His day job is with a land developer, Abe Atiyeh, and his legal bias toward developers is so obvious, it is sickening. His recommendations to the ZHB to muzzle objector and resident comments is immoral and unethical. He should go. The new stenographer can stay.

Maybe this type of commentary will diminish my chances of making it to City Council, but if people want to hear what is really going on, they will pay attention to what I have to say. And if I do make it to City Council, I will do my best to flush the toilet at City Hall, and send all the effluent into the waste system where it belongs. I do not plan on taking any prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I never thought you were so biased. It took almost 6 months of daily calling to get the Zoning Officer to force Elias to remove his stand-alone trailer parked right next to Johnston Dr. where the whole neighborhood had to see it every day with the back open but it never moved. It did not have a tractor attached to it. The garbage dumpsters should be next to their building now and they also should be covered but they aren't. Why not? Two years have gone by. You mean to tell me they couldn't clean up that place? Pichel picked up every piece of paper that was on his property himself every day. These people are pigs and you want the neighbors to trust them?

You say that Elias reached out to the neighbors. Bull, they set a date that most neighbors couldn't attend and then they wouldn't agree to change the date or to a neutral location other than their store so only one person showed up. They wouldn't compromise on anything so what do you know. You call that reaching out! You getting senile in your older age? Why has the neighborhood had to look at burned down buildings for how many years now? Since May 26, 2009. Is that how they show they care about the neighborhood. Come on Bernie, what are you smoking?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But it is my opinion that the ZHB is lopsided and biased toward the Elias Farmers Market, and, the ZHB has tin ears, blinders, and low intelligence. Mickey Thompson misleads them, and they follow like lemmings."

I am well aware that you have a low opinion of the ZHB, which you have expressed at numerous meetings. It is clear to you that Elias should be denied expansion. It's not so clear to them. I really have no opinion on the merits of the Elias expansion, but i believe a person can have a different opinion than you and still be a person of good will. I also disagree with your assessment of their intelligence. I see them every month. What I've detected is that they really try to be fair. I may not always agree with them, but do not question heir intentions or their intelligence.

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:38,

I respectfully suggest that you are the person who is biased. You have cited several instances that may very well be violations. But that has nothing to do with the ZHB. They have no enforcement powers. That's the province of the zoning officer. If you think she is not doing her job, you can complain to the Director of Planning or the Mayor. But before anyone does anything, they'd likely want to hear from the zoning officer.

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS 11:33am

That's the best solution I have heard yet, but why wasn't the ZHB smart enough to figure out about the dimensions and the usage of the outbuildings from just hearing prior testimony from the people who rented those properties from Elias and Elias's own admittal to this. Seems to me the ZHB just ignored that information and I don't understand why. Maybe they will now realize that they made a big mistake and these poor people (neighbors) won't have to put any more money out of their pockets to go to appeal courts and lawyers and they can move on and Elias can fix up his establishment without the addition space and rebuild his two outbuildings exactly the way they are now (looking like two barn). A great injustice was done to the neighbors and zoning is part of the reason why!

Anonymous said...

The neighbors are upset because this Elias Market expansion is so excessive and all the variance reliefs granted by ZHB of Bethlehem so far were based on misleading information by Elias Market and the existing ordinances were ignored by the ZHB. The following is a summary.

1. Elias Market claimed that they have a hardship of using the two outbuildings due to elevations between the store and the outbuildings. But 2 witnesses’ testimonies have showed these two outbuildings were never a part of the market. They were rental properties as self storages for customers and 2 landscaping business for all those past years until they caught on fire a few years ago.
2. Elias Market claimed that they have a hardship of an unsafe loading dock so it is not being used by their tractor trailers and trucks. But the photo and videos (one is on the YouTube) showed they used the existing loading dock daily all year long.
3. Elias Market claimed that the expansion will use no additional land except the footprint of 2 existing outbuildings and gaps between them. But cross examination of Mr. Pany by neighbor’s attorney have showed additional land will be used for the warehouse and 3 new loading docks in addition to the 3360 SF for new parking ramp in front of new loading docks.
4. Elias Market claimed initially all the ramps for the tractor trailer will be covered or enclosed. After a clarification at a planning commission meeting. Then they admitted that only a internal ramp will be covered but not the external ramp for tractor trailers because they need to release the toxic exhaust to the outside, I guess this is for the neighbors to breathe. After heard that, ZHB Solicitor Mickey Thompson changed to say in Special exception report released on Jan 13, 2011 “Further testimony indicated that after the plan was presented to the City of Bethlehem Planning Commission that loading dock will be not be ender(under) cover of a roof. This reduces the extent of expansion of famer’s market/grocery store by approximately 1500 square feet”. Where is this number of 1500 SF reduction come from? Is there really a reduction in size of the expansion? The answer is NO; but this is just another misleading statement to fool the judge when the case get into the court again.
5. Elias Market claimed that all the setbacks are met and neighbors are not even going to notice the expansion. But according to Zoning Ordinance, warehouse and loading docks are not permitted uses in RR district. The setbacks of 25’ and 40’ for non-residential property listed in Article 1304 of Zoning Ordinance are meant for permitted uses only. Building an industrial grade warehouse with 25 feet tall cinder block, noisy utilities on the flat rooftop does not belong to Residential neighborhood. Building 3 loading docks for diesel tractor trailers as close as just 25 feet to neighbor’s backyard is not only ridiculous but also violated the current zoning ordinance. According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, diesel exhaust contains a large number of chemicals and cause bronchitis, emphysema and cancers.
(To be continued)

Anonymous said...

(Continued from the last posting)
6. The ZHB should follow all the applicable requirements such as the one below to deal with warehouse and loading docks if they are abutting a residential district or inside a residential district. Instead, ZHB just rubber stamps everything Elias Market wants and allow the market to build such things as close as 25 feet to resident’s backyard.
1314. B.03 Area, Yard and Building Regulations.
a. - (3) Minimum Principal and Accessory Building Setback:
For a principal non-residential use from the lot line of an existing principal residential use or a residential zoning district boundary 100 feet ****
(9) Any garbage dumpster for a commercial use or loading area used by tractor-trailer trucks shall be setback a minimum of 70 feet from any residential zoning district. Each garbage dumpster shall be surrounded by a decorative masonry wall and/ or a weather-resistant decorative board fence and gate. Loading or unloading of trucks that occurs within 200 feet of a lot line of an existing dwelling shall not be allowed between the hours of 11 pm. and 6 am.

7. Vehicles are not allowed to be stored in a parking lot if that parking lot is obtained through Special exception and that lot is located in residential district according to the zoning ordinance Article 1325.08 “Special Conditions and Safeguards for Special Exception Uses
(e) Parking Lot in Residential District -- Land may be utilized for off-street parking facilities in certain residential districts providing the requirements in Articles 1319 and 1321 and the following are met:
a. The applicant for such special use permit must be the owner of both the property which is to be served by the parking lot and the property in the residential district to be used as the parking lot.
b. No repair, service, display, or storage of vehicles shall be permitted on said parking lot.
c. Parking lot shall be used exclusively for customer and employee parking”.

Guess what, ZHB told Elias Market “There shall be not storage of offsite trucks or buses not owned by Applicant on the subject premises”. That meant they can store their tractor trailers or any vehicles permanently on the lot as long as they are owned by the market.

Anonymous said...

A lot of talk about dimensions; this size and that; however the only thing the ZHB has in front of them this time is a Special Exception request for the use. Judge already ruled on the sq ft expansion based on the evidence that was presented at the first hearing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Good point. I had forgotten that. In fact, I believe the ZHB previously ruled, in the night of the missing transcript, that it would refuse to admit evidence along those lines.

I believe Backenstoe did a good job raising some serious questions about the extent of the expansion, but it might be too late. We'll see.

c said...

Dave Backenstoe is one of the most honest and ethical attorneys that I have ever met.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed. He put on a good case, too.

Al Bernotas said...

This case will be decided in Commonwealth Court, were the entire record will be reviewed.

In my opinion, this case involves fabrications of the truth by Mr. Azar, Mr. Pany, and Mr. Lezoche; and in Mr. Lezoche's case, I feel it also involves purposeful omission of the facts. In addition, Mr. Lezoche failed to bring the requirement of a special exception to the ZHB. The quality of his work as a zoning officer has always been suspect and disingenuous, in my mind.

The ZHB members think the Common Pleas judge and the Planning Commission have already decided this case. That is how weak kneed their judgment is. It has been painful, having to go back before this group of feckless miscreants. It will be great when the case moves on.