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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Martin Tower Zoning Appeal Quashed

As was expected in most legal circles, Lehigh County Judge Douglas Reichley has quashed a zoning appeal of Bethlehem City Council's controversial decision late last year to rezone the 53-acre Martin Tower tract. Judge Reichley's ruling, quietly released on Friday afternoon, clears the way for a mixed use development, as well as the possible demolition of Bethlehem Steel's former headquarters.

Judge Reichley ruled that the group of residents and merchants who filed this challenge lived too far away from the proposed development and thus lacked standing. Even if they had the right to seek judicial relief, Reichley found their complaint devoid of merit.

The chief argument against the zoning change was that Planning Director Darlene Heller failed to give the Planning Commission enough time to review zoning changes. But the City countered that that Heller is also the Planning Commission Secretary, and that notice to her was timely.

Merchants and residents were represented by prominent zoning attorney Marc Kaplan. The City was represented by its Solicitor, Bill Leeson. He's one of the Lehigh Valley's best attorneys.


Anonymous said...

Can't understand why the Martin Tower building can't be stripped down to it's structural steel frame and continued as office space. Not necessarily space for a single company, but rather several companies. Include first floor retail and maybe some residential, too. The rest of that acreage to be developed could benefit from a steady stream of regular visitors.

There must be something more about the desire to take it all down completely. There can't be anything wrong with the existing sub-structure, underground parking, nor the beams and columns above.

Fred Windish

Rich Fegley said...

Just do as the judge says. Judges are never corrupt, right?

Anonymous said...

This lawsuit should never have even been filed. It is not the governments job to stifle competition! The group that filed this should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the courts time!

Anonymous said...


What ever happens there is alot of work to do. It is full of asbestos and has no sprinkler system.

Anonymous said...


Isn't he working on his third state pension?

Anonymous said...

While I'd love to see it stick around like Fred suggests above, 7:44 is correct. The cost of asbestos removal and retro fitting the plumbing, on top of any other renovations etc. just to make it usable would require rent/lease/purchase prices per unit/sq. ft. to exceed what is found in NYC or Philly.

Sadly, a complete tear down is the cheapest short term answer.


Bernie O'Hare said...

". It is not the governments job to stifle competition! The group that filed this should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the courts time! "

I opposed this rezoning, but believed this lawsuit was without merit myself. Having said that, your argument makes no sense. If it is not the government's job to stifle competition, there never would be a CRIZ in which the government picks winners and losers. Merchants areconcerned precisely bc they feel government is stifling competition. Try some other bullshit argument.

Anonymous said...

As you stated in your opening comments, "As was expected in most legal circles", this had absolutely no chance of going forward. What bothers me is Mr. Fegleys comment, "Just do as the judge says. Judges are never corrupt, right?"
On a legal basis this decision was an easy call. Because the judge had a different legal opinion than Mr. Fegley, right away the judge is corrupt? I know this judge and have a lot of respect for him, as do many others who know him. Shame on Mr. Fegley!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I found Judge Reichley's reasoning to be quite sound.

Anonymous said...

My thinking is this. If all they are going to put on that footprint is blacktop, then, of course, tear it down. But, even with a tear down, the asbestos removal will be costly.

IF a building of some sort is going over/near that footprint, why not retain this underground parking, save money on excavation work, and use the existing steel frame, even if just half of it. Creating something with the excavation, foundation, and framework already in place has to be less expensive than building from scratch.

I always prefer to see re-claimed buildings put to a new use.

Fred Windish