|From left to right: Michael Santanasto, Gus Loupos(seated), Linda Shay Gardner, Bill Fitzpatrick(seated) and James Schantz|
Before this new, five member Board could convene, Loupos and Fitzpatrick were still busy wrapping up the 6th and final night of testimony in Abe Atiyeh's controversial request for a residential treatment center next to Bethlehem Catholic High School. Instead of getting started at 7 PM, as scheduled on the agenda, the new zoners had to wait until 9 PM.
Their first zoning applicant?
None other than Abe Atiyeh.
Owner of Synthetic Thread Apartments at 825 12th Avenue, Atiyeh was denied a sign permit for a 189 sq ft combined static and LED sign, which would replace what's already painted on the building. Atyeh's lead engineer, David Harte, told zoners the sign would advertise the 67 loft apartments, which he explained are hard to find. Because these are "live work" apartments for people who work from their home, Harte suggested the LED sign would also let people know what services are offered by tenants. He added that the LED light, located in an industrial district, would have no impact on any residences.
Attorney James Preston, representing Atiyeh, told zoner James Schantz that the building and its original sign were there before nearby Route 378, and probably pre-dates Bethlehem's zoning ordinance. Although zoners unanimously granted a variance for the sign, they imposed conditions that would prevent Atiyeh from using it as a billboard to advertise products or services unrelated to the apartment building.