The Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board denied an appeal for a variance to establish a retail business for buying and selling used goods at 1025 W. Broad St. at a hearing last week where about a half-dozen neighbors characterized the business as a “nuisance” and out of character with the neighborhood.
Business owner Gerardo Garcia III testified, along with Dean Nguyen, the building owner, at a hearing Wednesday night to request a variance from the required four off-street parking spaces to total on-street parking. The area is zoned commercial.
Under questioning by the board, Garcia said he had been operating a small business -- “only enough to feed my family,” he said, -- at the location for about two years. He said the business is not a pawn shop, as was mistakenly filed in the zoning application, but as a place to sell and buy used electronic equipment, toys, games and cell phones.
Garcia has a city business license, but he never applied for or received approval from the city’s zoning department.
Mary Toulouse of 1528 W. Market St., testified that some members of the area’s neighborhood association have voiced concerns about the “shabby appearance, items on the sidewalk and regular appearance of police,” at the building.
“I think the business has been more of a nuisance. I can’t understand how it’s been allowed. For two years, the business has operated illegally,” she said.
Shannon Patrick of 109 W. Broad St., a resident and business owner, said a snow blower, washer and dryer, bikes and a trailer were observed on the sidewalk with people loitering there. Since the business closed, it has been quieter, she noted, pointing out, “It definitely doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood.”
Michael Keyock of 1024 W. Market St., said he has observed items for sale at the front of the building and cars double parking. “It’s just not the right location for the business,” he testified.
After the hearing, Garcia said he does not plan to appeal the decision to Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas.
The board also denied the appeal of Antonio Tejada for a variance to establish a family day care center in his home at 83 W. Goepp St. because Tejada, nor a legal representative, appeared at the meeting. Tejada sought variances from required fencing for an outdoor play area, and from the requirement of a safe pick-up and drop-off area for children.