The vice president of a development company owned by Abraham Atiyeh may have made an ill-timed land use pitch to Bethlehem Township Commissioners on Monday night, the eve of Election Day, according to at least one member of the board.
David Harte, the vice president of Pennsylvania Venture Capital, LLC, told commissioners his company is interested in developing a new gas station at 3743 Nazareth Pike, Route 512.
The property in question is currently an unoccupied single-family, three bedroom home, though it does sit in a very commercial area just south of the Route 22 interchange. The property is just south of the Kmart mall and is across Nazareth Pike from another mall anchored by a Wal-Mart.
A series of township permits and approvals would be required to convert the property from residential use to a gas station which, to Commissioner Jerry Batcha, raised an interesting point about another Atiyeh associate – his wife, Nimita Kapoor-Atiyeh, a candidate for township commissioner.
“I don’t know if hypocrisy is the word I want to use,” Batcha told Harte. “It’s interesting for someone to, on the one hand, be talking about doing one thing, but on the other hand, is doing the complete opposite.”
In her effort to become the representative from the township’s First Ward, Kapoor-Atiyeh has over the past two weeks used a series of campaign postcards to blame her opponent, incumbent Thomas Nolan, for allowing “out of control development” lowering the quality of life for township residents, the destruction of farmland and increased traffic and congestion.
Batcha used the mailers to criticize Harte’s appearance and suggested that any decision on such a project wait until after the election. Voters will decide today whether Kapoor-Atiyeh, a Democrat, should replace Nolan, a Republican.
“Our family moved to Bethlehem Township for open space and its family friendly atmosphere. But that is changing,” one of Kapoor-Atiyeh’s mailers reads. “Over-development is taking away our farmland, too many bad decisions have been made for our citizens and traffic congestion is out of control.”
Her husband, meanwhile, has become notorious across the Lehigh Valley for proposing developments that introduce more intense land uses than had previously existed, seeking special exceptions and, in some cases rezoning to achieve his goals.
In the city, for example, Atiyeh is currently proposing to convert a vacant church next door to Bethlehem Catholic High School into a drug & alcohol residential treatment center, a plan that does not sit well with neighbors.