Bethlehem City Council voted Tuesday night to update the city’s zoning code for the first time in 40 years over objections from some Central Historic District neighbors trying to stop the conversion of a bed and breakfast to a financial consultant’s office, according to The Express Times.
Some council members agreed with residents that new provisions meant to encourage commercial development of corner properties in residential zones is too lenient, but that they did not want to further delay adoption of the law, the newspaper reported.
More than two years in development, final adoption of the new law is scheduled to take place on August 7. Tuesday’s adoption, by a 5-1 vote, was a first reading ballot.
Central Historic District neighbors object to the proposed conversion of the Bethlehem Inn to offices for financial consultant John Brew and 262 Paradice Found LLC.
Built in 1845, the three-story building has housed the bed and breakfast for the past 25 years. But in years before then, it was home to a dentist’s office, an optometrist and student housing.
The Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board, by a 2-2 vote, denied a variance to allow the conversion at a meeting in May. But Brew has applied again and is seeking a special exception – which is easier to obtain than a variance – under the new zoning law.
The hearing is scheduled on August 22.