|Chris Morales smiles while zoners deliberate|
The City's Zoning Ordinance designates the 3rd St property as residential. But Morales told zoners that, until recently, the now vacant property was once part of a contracting business. County records still list and tax it that way. So Morales proposed a small office trailer at the site, where he would keep between 5-10 high-end used cars. It would be an improvement over current conditions, he explained, noting that "the weeds look like trees" and that "people tend to use it as a dumping site."
He told zoners he would store the cars openly. "I have faith in the neighborhood," he explained. "I've seen a lot of people coming into the neighborhood, driving out the riff raff." He indicated he has a used car license in Schuylkill County, which he would transfer here. "I'm trying to bring some sort of light in the neighborhood," he explained.
Asked about the Greenway behind the proposed car lot, Morales assured zoners that no one would notice his business.
Benjamin Bracero, who lives in an adjacent property, complained that the property has already been used to store vehicles. This attracted vermin, from feral cats to rats.
"I can assure you none of my vehicles will bring rats," responded Morales.
Bracero also said that Morales was evasive when asked about his plans. Morales acknowledged he was reluctant to disclose business plans.
Morales left right after the hearing, so it's unclear whether he plans to appeal. Three other appeals heard by zoners at their September 25 meeting were successful.
Applied Motion Technologies was unanimously granted dimensional variances for a parking lot at 629 Linden Street. This is for students at a school for industrial hydraulics training. They are currently being shuttled to the school, located adjacent to the proposed lot. Under questioning by Attorney Jim Preston, Engineer Jim Milot provided expert testimony concerning the safety of the proposed plan.
Dr. Timothy Lang, whose family dentistry practice at 928 Linden Street has been a Bethlehem institution since the '50s, was unanimously granted use and dimensional variances that will permit him to subdivide his property, with a dental office on one lot and a residence on the second. This property is a nonconforming lot, meaning that it was being used in this fashion before a zoning ordinance was ever adopted. But Attorney Jim Holziner, representing Dr.Lang, told zoners this subdivision would make it easier to market the property when Dr. Lang decides to retire. Holzinger added that it would be beneficial to the City as well. "If they change the use, they would have to come back," he argued.
Finally, zoners unanimously agreed to allow Brian and Melissa Lynn to build a single family home on a vacant lot in an approved subdivision at 421 N. Pine Top Place. Though Lynn's plans deviate slightly from the steep slope ordinance, the lot was in place before the ordinance and plans are consistent with other properties in the area.
During the hearings, one person left after realizing his matter haa been continued until next month. As he tried to exit the hearing room, zoner Bill Fitzpatrick wisecracked, "You've been thrown out of better places than this."