|Engineer Terry DeGroot, explains design to West Bethlehem's Bill Scheirer|
Steve Mayer, who lives right next to the school, referred to his home as "ground zero" for Nitschmann. But instead of complaining about noisy kids, Mayer was complimentary. "You cannot find a better neighbor than the Nitschmann School," he told zoners. "Since the inception of this project, the Bethlehem School District has kept neighbors informed of everything that's going on. That's very nice of them to do."
Zoning Hearing Board Chair Gus Loupos, who incessantly urges parties in zoning disputes to talk to each other, beamed as Mayer spoke. "I think that's important," he observed. "That's what makes projects be successful."
One of four middle schools in Bethlehem, Nitschmann is home to about 800 6th to 8th grade students. It is located in a mostly residential area at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and West Union Boulevard.
D'Huy Engineering's Mohammed Arif Fazil told zoners that the school district is focused on maintaining neighborhood schools. He said the new design for an environmentally responsible, LEED-certified building will maintain the "West Bethlehem character."
The Dean of West Bethlehem, Bill Scheirer, agreed with Fazil, calling the new design an improvement over the present school.
Although there were some questions about the proposed 8' high fence, proposed mostly as a result of safety concerns, zoners unanimously approved setback and sign variances for the new school.
In other business, zoners unanimously approved the conversion of an old butcher shop at 1413 Luther Street, currently used for storage, into a residential unit for owner Warren Share.
Realtor Lucy Lennon presented plans showing that, instead of gutting the building, Share plans to make an adaptive reuse of features in the butcher shop, including the old cooler doors and even the old meat hanger.
"We'd really like to reuse the property and do something cool," she testified.
Once again, West Bethlehem's Bill Scheirer chimed in. "Anything Lucy Lennon is associated with is going to be a good project," he assured the board.
Gus Loupos, noting that he and Vice Chair Bill Fitzpatrick, have recently been re-appointed for another five-year term, thanked the Mayor and City Council. "I'll probably becoming here after five years in a wheelchair or a walker," he joked, saying that he and Bill hope to make a "big difference" for the Christmas City.