Thursday, July 23, 2015
Bethlehem ZHB Approves Expansion of Ben Franklin Tech Center
Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board breezed through four appeals at the July 22 with Gus Loupos, who had just celebrated his 80th birthday, back at the helm. He was sidelined in June by a minor medical issue, but is back with his usual disarming charm and pragmatism. This is always appreciated by nervous zoning applicants.
The biggest action taken was the unanimous approval of the Ben Franklin Technolgy Center, located at 111 Research Drive. Project and facilities manager Charles Diefenderfer, who is represented by Attorney Kate Durso, sought minor dimensional variances that will allow for the expansion of the existing four-story facility. This addition will add office and meeting space.
Zoners also granted a special exception to foodie, author and musician Erik Eppler, who also provides data consulting to investment banks. What he really loves to do is cook, and he was authorized to convert part of his garage into a kitchen for a one-man catering service. He will have no visitors, no signs and no delivery trucks because he selects the ingredients himself. "I'm very particular about my food," he told the Board.
"Samples would have been nice," joked Bill Fitzpatrick.
From catering, zoners went into the world of auto repair. Austin's Auto Repair, which for the past 35 years has been located at 1843 W Broad Street, was unanimously granted minor variances so it could add more storage.Owner Nelson Tavarez. argued that this would make the business safer.
Finally, Bethlehem firefighter Christopher Vargo was granted dimensional relief to allow him to build a garage and driveway at his residence, exactly like other homes in his neighborhood.
No one spoke against any of the applications, although Francis and Linda Gaal expressed some concerns about the catering business.
Attorney Linda Shay Gardner was delayed by business and unable to attend the meeting.