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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bethlehem Tp Comm'rs Approve Duplex Over Neighbors' Objections

Despite forceful objections by three neighbors on Spear Street, Bethlehem Township Commissioners last night approved plans by Allentown's Robert James to tear down a single home at the southeast corner of Fifth and Spear Street and replace it with a duplex. Commissioner Tom Nolan told protesters the development is "by right permissible," meaning that it is an expressly permitted use under the zoning ordinance.

The vote was 3 to 1, with Nolan, Marty Zawarski and Phil Barnard supporting the development. Pat Breslin voted No, without explanation. Michael Hudak was absent.

Richard Brescia, who lives on Spear Street, questioned whether this is really a "by right" development. He noted that, though the zoning ordinance does allow for duplexes in that zoned area, it also mandates a balancing act, under its express terms, to "carefully control the types of housing to ensure compatibility with existing homes." He denied that a duplex is compatible with the existing homes in that neighborhood,

Brescia was joined by two Spear Street neighbors, Charles Milositz and Joe Stofanak. who stated the nearest duplex is a mile away. "It just doesn't fit," added Milositz.

These neighbors they were absent when this matter was presented to the Planning Commission, and have no plans to sue.

After the meeting, Phil Barnard took no pleasure in voting against these neighbors. "We were kind of handcuffed," he observed. Nolan had previously stated, "We have to uphold our ordinances."

In other business, Commissioners got an earful from a frustrated Anthony Billone. He told Commissioners that his father's home, located on Farmersville Road directly across the street by Deja Vu Kennel, is being treated as both a parking lot and bathroom stop for the pets. Customers even park in and block his father's driveway. When he's called the police, he's been told it's a zoning issue, When he's called zoning, he's told to call the police.

Deja Vu Kennel is exempt from the zoning requirements of off-street parking because it existed before the ordinance went into effect. But that's no consolation to Billone. "We can't get in and out of our own driveway," he complained.He indicated one truck with all kinds of lawn maintenance equipment is deliberately parked on his father's property. No Trespassing signs are torn down.

Nathan Jones, Bethlehem Township's new Planning Director, stated that some type of enforcement action is being pondered, and would call Billone with an answer today.

In addition to dealing with unhappy neighbors, Commissioners voted 4-0 in support of an amendment to the Township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance that will require owners to bear the costs of streelighting in future non-residential development.

They also authorized their Solicitor, John Harrison, to "intervene" in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's pre-application hearing with respect to the PennEast Pipeline. That pipeline is currently scheduled to slice through the eastern portion of the Township.

Harrison explained that it is currently too early to intervene. The motion gives him the authority to do so when the time is right. He added that intervention does not mean that the Township is taking sides, either in support of or against the pipeline. For now, it is acting as an observer.


Anonymous said...

Why would they vote to make a developer pay for street lighting when their ordinance already requires a developer to pay for TWO years of lighting costs per street light?? Are they not collecting that any more? Lots of developers have paid that fee... and it was quite hefty. Did they forget that and if not, do they really want to be that more greedy and get more out of the private sector?

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine expending energy because someone has the audacity to BUILD A DUPLEX. Seriously? Who gives a shit. People will complain about anything and embarrass themselves in public. These idiots probably showed up in sweat pants or pajamas too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, there were three people and they have a right to speak and what they said made sense. In fact, they persuaded me. I don';t think this duplex is "by right".

Anonymous said...

No one has a "right" to speak in BT.
Speaking is a privilege, extended by the commissioners.

Bernie O'Hare said...

try again.