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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bethlehem Zoners Delay Decision on Offices in Historic District

Bethlehem's Zoning hearing Board was scheduled to make a decision at the beginning of their May 25 meeting on Morning Star Partners' plans to locate a financial services business at the northwest intersection of West Market and North New Streets. This unique property, which consists of both a home and two retail businesses, is known both as 2 West Market and 511 North New Streets. It is located in the heart of the City's historic district. But because Chairman Gus Loupos was unavailable, the decision will instead come at a special meeting scheduled for June 2 at 6 pm. in Town Hall.

The majestic home, known as the Schadt house, is a single-family residence built in the 1840s. The green buildings, first built in the 1820s, are retail establishments and once included the manufacturer of brass instruments for the Moravian Church.

Morning Star Partners are represented by zoning attorney Bill Preston.

Bill Fitzpatrick, the Vice Chair, has recused himself based on a potential conflict.


Patriot2 said...

There is no legal justification for the ZHB to approve this exception so why is it taking them so long to turn this down & force the current owner to sell the home as a residence? It has been a residence since 1840 so how can they claim it can't be used as a residence again? This is Bethlehem chrony capitalism at work once again with politicians pressuring the ZHB to grant a favor to their buddy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is a nonconforming use that pre-dates the zoning ordinance. The question is whether the nonconforming use applies to the entire tract or is limited in application. That's not a question of crony capitalism, but a question of law.

One ZHB member, Bill Fitzpatrick, recused himself. That took the ZHB down to four. One of these members, Gus Loupos, had every intention of making a decision last night, but was hospitalized early in the week with pneumonia. That means a decision would have to come from three members, and they thought they would wait for Gus to recover first. Hopefully, Gus recovers quickly. This has nothing to do with political pressure. This has everything to do with pneumonia.

Instead of trashing everyone, why not wish Gus a speedy recovery?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure what the question is even about? There is already another financial services firm literally 30 feet away and a law office a couple more doors down. Many of the neighbors have even signed a petition in favor of the new zoning.

Patriot2 said...

We all wish Gus well but why a special meeting for this vote vs just voting at next regular meeting. Preston failed to prove that property cannot reasonably be converted to conforming residential--end of story!! Only the first floor of the Green building is a grandfarhered non-conforming use & it can easily lbe turned into residential to be conforming.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You kill me. It is you who complained at 8:56 about the ZHB taking so long to make a decision. Now you are complaining that they should just wait until the next regular meeting. Which is it? Is there anything you don't complain about? Maybe you should be a blogger, too!

Patriot2 said...

I did not know Gus was sick so when you informed me of that I then questioned why the need for a special mtg vs waiting 2 more weeks. My original point was that it should have been voted down the night of the hearing because Preston clearly failed to justify that this property cannot reasonably become conforming.

Maycees mom said...

What was the decision on this matter--didn't see anything in the paper or online--was meeting held last night?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was in Northampton County last night. I will find out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1. Any renovations shall be substantially similar to what was testified.
2. There may be one single entity and it must be a professional office use as well as one residential use.
3. The 2nd floor of the current green buildings may only be storage for the professional office. If the residential unit is to be above the green buildings, the 2nd story of the garage may only be storage for the professional office.
4. Maximum number of employees may not exceed what was testified to (no more than 14)."