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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boy Scout Brings Good Luck to Bethlehem Zoning Applicants

Nicholas Hanna, age 13, Troop 318
Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board had an unusual visitor at their April 24 meeting. Nicholas Hanna, a 13 year-old boy scout with Troop 318 in Bethlehem, was forced to attend the meeting by Solicitor Mickey Thompson, who moonlights as an assistant scoutmaster. Hanna, distant cousin of Bethlehem's former DCED Director Tony Hanna, correctly predicted how zoners would rule on each of three cases they considered. He proved to be a good luck charm to applicants.

Tara Mahoney was unanimously granted a dimensional variance at 2003 Mary Street so she could build a 6' high fence along her front yard, instead of the 4' permitted. Her property had been surrounded by 12' high arborvitae, but they must be removed because of storm damage. She explained that a 6' high fence is needed for safety reasons, noting that a 4' high fence makes access by possible intruders too easy. She also worried that a smaller fence might tempt passing school children to try and pet her dog, who is sometimes unfriendly.

Christopher and Krista Kozak, 2041 Fernway Avenue, were also unanimously granted a dimensional variance so they could extend and enclose an existing porch, converting it into an office and bathroom. The couple recently had a daughter, making bathroom space more important. "If they have another, he'll never see the bathroom again," mumbled Zoning Officer Suzanne Borzak.

In the final matter considered, Kurt Schreefer, 1625 Sycamore Street, was granted a dimensional variance so he could construct an 8 x 14' shed just 5' away from his property line near Hamilton Street. He explained that, to comply with the zoning ordinance, he have to put that shed in the middle of his yard. he added that, because of the irregular shape of his lot, he has three front yards under the zoning ordinance, instead of one. Although zoners grated relief, it was on condition that Schreefer build nothing in the remaining 5' from his property line to Hamilton Street. ZHB member Linda Shay Gardner dissented from that decision.  


Anonymous said...

The non-believer, and or the non-heterosexual, need not apply to the Boy Scouts of America.how very sad.
How very un-American

Anonymous said...

How about if you focus on the good things this article mentions. The program is excellent and prepares boys to be contributing members of society.

it's only the adults who are foolishly debating sexual orientation and religious beliefs, which have NOTHING to do with the program.

Anonymous said...


No one was "forced." "Strongly encouraged," yes.

Some boys from Troop 318 are doing their Citizenship in the Community merit badge and one of the many requirements is to attend a public meeting and write about it. It is one of the more difficult merit badges to get (and is an Eagle requirement) since the scout needs to volunteer at a not-for-profit for a minimum of eight hours, as well as a host of other tasks designed to help teach and support good citizenship in their local community.

I thought to have more boys attend, but there was a band concert at Nitschmann Middle School last night (and tonight).

Mickey Thompson

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mickey, I have called the local police. I am pretty sure that requiring kids to attend a ZHB is cruel and unusual punishment.

Seriously, it was a nice thing to see.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas was not forced he wanted to go, he is working on becoming an Eagle Scout and one of the merit badges is the citizenship in the community merit badge, one of the reguiment is to attend a public hearing.It was a great experience for him to see who our zoning system works, he want home and told his dad all about .

Rana Hanna (Nick's mom)

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rana, He is a very nice young man and you should be proud of him.

Anonymous said...

I am, Thanks

Anonymous said...

One can not belong to Tha Boy Scouts of America unless they beleive in a God and are heterosexual. How very unfortunate these kids are excluded from the wonderful experiences like this fine young man is having.
I'm ashamed of an organization that was so valuable to me.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 11:31 -- BSA's newly revised policy allows gay youths to join, though still excludes gay leaders. the organization isn't yet where we'd like it to be, but it's getting there.

Anonymous said...

Hat tip to quality parents. There are still some left!

Al Bernotas said...


Despite all the heated arguments we have had, I tip my hat to you for being involved with the Boy Scouts, and for inviting that very nice young man to the Zoning Hearing Board Meeting. Good job, well done!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Al. I never was involved in the Boy Scouts when I was a child. I was too heavily invested in football and baseball growing up and had very little time for anything else.

So, with my boys not wanting to play baseball this year (which I have coached for the last 6 years - sometimes even two teams for both of my boys), and my oldest really enjoying scouts, I figured that I would volunteer my time with the Boy Scouts program. I never camped, rarely hiked, and was ignorant to all things Scouts related. Since I started getting involved, I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I am with the Scouts program, the leaders, the opportunities, etc. People love to throw slings and arrows at programs such as this for whatever their agenda, but there is nothing out there that I know of that teaches the responsibility to the individual and the community. Sports are great and I know that it teaches how to deal with winning and losing, teamwork, hardwork and the like. But I went to an event called the Klondike Derby which is in essence a skills competition where the boys have to pull a sled in the snow and are graded in the completion of tasks like knot-tying (I have no idea how to tie knots other than my shoe laces), orienteering, fire starting, first aid and about a dozen more. I followed the squad within the troop comprised of 11-16 year olds of different ethnicities and economic means, and these boys were able to do things that as a 39 year old man I would have no idea how to do. I was hooked at that point.

The one thing that I want to say to everyone not involved in the program, especially those who want to employ their agendas (rightly or wrongly) about programs such as this, is that these are little boys. Most of the boys in our troop are 11-12 years old. They need time to figure things out. All of the hoopla involving the scouts recently really is lost of them. Please don't cast aspersions to the character of these children because they aren't adopting your particular poltical beliefs. They are just boys who want to play, hang out with their friends, and learn.

-Mickey Thompson

Anonymous said...

I was involved in Scouting at every level up to and including Explorers. Criticizing the Boy Scouts of America for their policies which exclude people based on sexual orientation or religious belief, is not "inserting an agenda".
My only agenda would be to encourage this organization that I love, and have a long long affiliation with, to end this unfortunate discrimination.
It's the American Way.

Anonymous said...

.... and this criticism of the Boy Scouts of America, is certainly not directed at these fine young men. Obviously, the boys don't set the policy at the organizational level. Please.