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.