Thursday, February 25, 2016
Route 412 Improvements Destroy Bethlehem Restaurant
But that was before progress came to Bethlehem. First came Commerce Center Boulevard. LVIP VII quickly followed, along with a Walmart distribution center and other businesses. The expected increases in truck traffic meant that major improvements were needed on Main Street, especially between Commerce Center Boulevard and nearby Route 78
All of these changes meant that Nick's was no longer so easy to find. Instead of a quick jump on and off Main Street, a patron would be required to travel along several roads within LVIPVII , going back and forth like inside a maze. Zoning Officer Suzanne Borzak, who is very familiar with Bethlehem, said she was "driving forever" to get to the property.
Eventually, people stopped coming. "We had to shut down," Despinas Kotastos told Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board at their February 24 meeting. "What are you gonna do?"
One thing would be to find some other uses at the property. With the help of Bethlehem Attorney Jim Holzinger, Kotastos asked for a special exception that would allow her to rent two offices at a restaurant that was first established in 1978.
"This is a very unique property," Holzinger told the board. "The whole area around it has been tremendously impacted. ... It really is a shame.
Unanimously, the Zoning Hearing Board agreed to permit Kotastos to convert the restaurant and the floor above it "offices or such similar use as determined by the Zoning Officer."
In other business, the Board unanimously granted Nicholas Bozakis' request to convert some commercial garages near his business - Nick's Pizza - into two residential units on West Spruce Street. Bozakis told zoners that the garages had proven too difficult to access from the narrow street.
Attorney Holzinger represented Bozakis as well, and told the Board that these garages once served as the stables for horses used by the Bethlehem Police Department. They will be razed.
Zoners also agreed, by a 4-0 vote to the dimensional variances needed to convert a single family home at 418 E. 5th Street into three multifamily dwellings that would house college students. James Byszewski, a principal at Webster, said he has invested approximately $2 million to 40 homes, most of which are on the South Side. Zoning Officer Suzanne Borzak is a former code inspector, and told the Board that Webster always goes "above and beyond" what is required by code. Webster was represented by Bethlehem Attorney Lisa Periera, who has had considerable success in zoning matters before the Board in recent years. Michael Sntanasto recused himself from considering the application because he knows Byszewski.
Juan Gonzalez' request for an auto repair business at 818-820 Evans Street was delayed for a month, with his permission, so that the Board could study a 16-year old decision in the matter that might mean they have to rule in his favor.
Finally, Charles Tommor's appeal of an enforcement notice requiring him to pave a third parking space on his property, located at 505 16th Avenue was dismissed. Tommor failed to appear without explanation.