Friday, June 14, 2019

Bethlehem Zoning Appeals Have Spiked

Last year, Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board entertained 34 appeals. This year, through June 12, the number is already 21. Why? Some of you may think there's more development, but there's another reason for this sudden increase. Last year, the City of Bethlehem had a zoning officer who actually worked with people and tried to come up with ways to make an appeal unnecessary. Not only did this make people more happy with the City, but property owners would be spared the $500 cost for an appeal.

This zoning officer was Suzanne Borzak, who developed a reputation for being tough but fair. She thought her job was to help people. Silly her. In January, she was forced out by Planning Director Darlene Heller and Department of Community and Economic Developer Alicia Karner.

Borzak's mortal sin was that she was competent and helpful.  Her replacement obviously knows that his immediate predecessor was pushed out, and is taking no chances.

His response to people with questions, I'm told, is "I'm too busy. Read the Ordinance."

Just the way Darlene Heller wants.

Hence the increase in zoning appeals.

In the meantime, Karner has actually instructed her staff to wait until the last minute before reviewing something so she can demand more people in her Department.   

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now, now Bernie. Karner was your blond love crush when she worked for the county DCED. You attacked anyone who dared to point out how arrogant, mean spirited, and thin skinned she was. She does not play well with others. And does not like sharing the limelight. That is why Borzak had to go. She was highly competent, courteous, and we'll liked. The exact opposite of her jealous bosses.

Anonymous said...

Zoning people should be there to help people navigate the rules, but many bureaucrats just love their power and want to show people who's the boss, also some look at any development as evil and would hope they would just go away. Also many times they encourage appeals just to get the $500. even when they know it will be turned down.

Anonymous said...

Your comment regarding Karner encouraging delay to justify more staff strains credulity

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you have finally come to your senses! Alicia Karner was always evil- intimidated by intelligent, competent people!

Moontrance said...

As you well know karner was forced upon donchez by boscola. Since then she has done everything in her power to build herself up and destroy everyone else. donchez is to weak and meek to control her.

D heller used to be a good person. Now she is controlled by threats from karner. Both are more concerned about the developer then they are the city. Susan was a great zoning officer but would not bend her ethics to these two dictators.

karner/heller will both be canned by the next mayor

Anonymous said...

Karner is a feral cat with the personality of a puke. Narcissistic, evil, mean and rotten to the core that's Karner. She needs to go back to cleaning Boscola's house and washing her dishes. Poor excuse for a human

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you finally have seen the light. Karner has wanted more staff since day 1. Under Callahan Admin, that department was streamlined and run very efficiently. Permit issuance times were fast and complaints were down. Karner came in and got rid of many competent employees and department suffered. She has replaced them with cronies from her Northampton County days and other bobbleheads, some of whom are not even qualified to hold the position they hold but only got the job because they are buddies with Karner.

Bernie O'Hare said...

”Your comment regarding Karner encouraging delay to justify more staff strains credulity”

When you hear it from three different people, it does not.

Anonymous said...

Here's my take, knowing nothing about the dynamic at the City of Bethlehem,: The former Zoning Officer may have been a bit "old school" and may have been working things out with parties to avoid the need for zoning hearings in a manner that may have been OK in the prior years. My guess is that Bethlehem, like many other municipalities these days with newer, more complex zoning regulations wants more rigid enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance and are increasingly relying on white collar professionals for this line of work. To me, the increase in hearings is likely the result of professional, unyielding zoning administration in 2019. I don't buy into the conspiracy theories, power trips and personality conflicts that are being floated. Also, everyone knows that municipalities lose money on ZHB appeals and forcing appeals only creates more work for the Zoning Officer. So I also reject the idea that there other other such motivations. Just my 2 cents worth...

Anonymous said...

What we need is Ralph Kramer. To the moon Alice to the moon.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe Ed Newton.

Anonymous said...

One sign that ohare has run out of women to defame at the county is when he spreads his vitriol outside the borders what did she do, not answer an email?

Bernie O'Hare said...

This story actually defends a woman who was highly regarded and paid the price for being competent.

Anonymous said...

Kramdon and Norton they can't even get the names straight let alone follow the article. Now all that is needed is spell checker from the grammar police and media man selling some sort of sac o shit as musical chairs are played?

Bernie you are who you hang with or side with in this tail o incompetence dressed up in living colour as they fly over the rainbow unikorns shooting from there asses!

Anonymous said...

Forgot the bearded fat lady behind the big tent out back to the left!

Anonymous said...

Bernie - Thank you for defending Suzanne. She was such an asset to the City of Bethlehem. So many of us relied on her knowledge,judgement and reasoning skills. Tony Hanna and Joe Kelly,past Directors of ED,were such great ambassadors for the City and were not threatened by the likeability of their staff,hence employees like Suzanne were respected. They wanted the public to like the staff-easier for both sides. They were also smart enough to know that a helpful,knowledgeable staff would only make them look better with greater productivity. Karner on the other hand rules her staff with threats,lies and “setting examples” with firings and punishment. I honestly have NEVER heard someone say she was helpful,courteous or kind. People just don’t like her,and she is so mean spirited she seems to revel in that. And while some may say my “attack” is personal ( because I really don’t like her-she’s wretched-I admit ),tell me what economic development growth we’ve had under her reign. The new projects you see are, and were, in the development stages during the previous administration. So in a nutshell...a VERY respected,intelligent,well liked employee like Suzanne was fired by a mean spirited,jealous,control freak and we,the city residents are paying the price. But why would she care?,she doesn’t live here anyways! Maybe Bangor could use her in their City Hall! #suzanneborzakrocks #aliciakarnersucks

Anonymous said...

"As you well know karner was forced upon donchez by boscola."

This is false. Ask Boscola, she will tell you that Bob never asked her opinion. The miserable bastard who got Bob to hire Karner will be getting out the federal penitentiary soon.

Anonymous said...

Bangor should not want her either. She has worn out her welcome here..long ago. She is way too ego driven to want anything to do with her home town anymore. Too high and mighty to stoop to such depths. Bangor's gift to the people of Bethlehem..she's yours now..keep her!

Anonymous said...

I have heard the same exact thing about Karner telling her staff to stall and delay as long as possible all permits in a attempt to generate complaints from city taxpayers and force the hiring of more staff members. The only one who has even tried to get answers is Callahan. He apparently asked Council to go to executive session to have the Mayor explain about Borzak but Reynolds wanted nothing to do with it and told the rest of Council to not go into exec session.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Both Brian and Paige van Wirt have questioned it.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Bethlehem for 20+ years. It is time to update my property but I have heard such terrible things about getting permits for tree removal, etc. I figure I'm old and don't need the abuse. Ill just sell cheap to NYer's when I have to move into an apt. or retirement community.

Anonymous said...

Happy Fathers' Day, Bernie!

Anonymous said...

Bernie should be complimented for changed his position on Karner. He defended her for a long time but started to see the light with the Martin Tower rezoning debacle.

Karner is most unprofessional & someone else had to take the fall for failure of her department to manage construction to comply with Zoning/Council conditions. That coupled with failure to enforce Illegal Airbnb operations has cost the department all credibility. Borsak took the hit for this incompetence in Karner department. Donchez weakest Mayor in our lifetimes in Bethlehem!!

Anonymous said...

The wicket witch of the west (Karner) runs this city! Donchez is a nice guy, but shouldn't be Mayor- he's by far, the weakest Mayor this city has ever had!

Anonymous said...

Donchez is a gentleman and a very nice man, but he is completely out of it. He should have never ran for a second term. He has no control over Karner and is letting her run her Dept. into the ground. In two years she will be gone and then what? The city will be left with incompetents hired by Karner. I had to deal with Borsak several times and she was always tough with the rules but fair. How Bethlehem ever let her go to Easton is crazy.

Anonymous said...

I was on vacation and just saw this blog. This is a fact. Bob Donchez didn't know who Alica was and never met her. He was told to give her the job. She doesn't care at all about the people of Bethlehem. She makes a great salary and you never know where she is when needed. Our department has imploded since she came to the City. She has fired very good people with the help of our Human resource director Michele. Bernie find out how she got her position. Lets just say she gave her all to get it. People that cared for the citizens of Bethlehem are out and Karner made way for her friends. She will lie and do just about anything to fire people. Bob cannot make a decision and has no back bone to stand up to her. The City needs to get rid of Karner now and ask all the good people she screwed over to please come back. Too bad Bob will do nothing as always.