|Pepper in Pink, with Carey Anne Tanis|
It would be perfect for the owners, too. Sylvia Hunsinger, whose parents lived there before they passed away, saw the rest of the block gobbled up by commercial uses. Over the course of a year, she was unable to find one person willing to buy the property until Tanis came along. "My parents would be very pleased," she said of plans to convert the home into a center that treats and provides therapy to children.
But Hunsinger and Tanis had a problem. The property was zoned residential.
Enter Bethlehem lawyer Richard Huntington Pepper. He argued that the property could no longer be marketed for its original purpose, established that there are no other residences along that block, and introduced evidence to establish that Advent is a very exclusive agency that is only open 4 1/2 days per week.
"That whole area is deteriorating;" grumbled resident Al Bernotas. "It started with Elias Market."
Bernotas is part of a group that unsuccessfully challenged the expansion of Elias Market, also located on Linden Street.
He asked Tanis to recite the hardship provisions of the zoning ordinance. Bernotas declaimed, "You're cute, and they all smile at you, but do you know what is required for a variance?"
She may not, but Attorney Pepper does, and the application for a variance was unanimously granted.
It was a good night for zoning attorney Jim Preston, too. He persuaded all five zoners to grant dimensional variances for Campus Hill Apartments, located on 521 E 5th Street. After acquiring the property, they repaved the parking lot, keeping all the same dimensions that previously existed. But property manager Shawna Green, on the very day she went to work at this location, was greeted by a Notice of Violation from Bethlehem because the paver never informed anyone that variances were needed.
"Some cities send you roses, you got a violation notice," joked Zoning hearing Board member Bill Fitzpatrick.
Preston also convinced zoners to allow Kala Shanmugam to open a mini-mart at 405 E 5th Street, despite a complete absence of off-street parking. Her husband, who will operate the convenience store, told zoners that his customer base will be Lehigh University students.
"You don't think people are going to be driving from Allentown to visit your mini-mart?" asked Preston. He told zoners this is no "traffic destination", but "lends itself to pedestrians best."
Shanmugam also owns a South Indian restaurant, Brindhaavan, two doors away. It is currently only open on weekends.
Zoners also gave Marcos B Cantillo a dimensional variance to enclose a screened second floor deck at 2136 Allwood Drive. They also permitted John Yerk, Jr., son of the former police commissioner, to construct a roof over his rear patio at 1746 Center Street.
Blogger's Note: Although Richard Huntington Pepper is a distinguished barrister who once represented Princess Hope, he is reputedly the worst sailor in the Lehigh Valley, and the only living person I know who has been banned by Court Order from setting foot inside a sailboat. He learned how to sail from my father, who was banned, too. My Dad, who makes me look nice, used to position Dominic Ferraro, Peg's late husband, at the bow to look for shallow water. Then he would purposely run aground, catapulting poor Dominic into the drink, head first. My father once ran aground on the Governor's private beach in New Jersey, and was greeted by Coast Guard cutters and helicopters. And this was before 9/11. My father learned how to sail from my brother, who once capsized in a Long Beach Island squall and began laughing, until I pointed out he had knocked his front teeth out. .