If you are an objector to any appeal being heard by the Zoning Hearing Board, and you attend an appeal without legal representation you are in trouble.
If the Zoning Hearing Board decision has legal flaws, you can appeal the decision. Frankly, you can appeal any decision they make, but your chances of prevailing are nil if they, in their decision, did not commit an error of law or abuse their discretion.
And in recent years, they have abused their discretion plenty. It is just that there is the problem of money. It takes plenty of it to fight them. So people just give up. No longer.
The Zoning Hearing Board does not represent the residents of the City of Bethlehem. They are a jury, a jury that can ask questions. They do not represent you.
The Solicitor for the Zoning Hearing Board represents the Zoning Hearing Board., he does not represent the residents of the City of Bethlehem. He does not represent you.
If you want to be represented by an attorney at the Zoning Hearing Board appeals, you'd better bring your attorney with you.
Most parties that request an appeal from a Zoning Officer decision do so because their request is contrary to the Zoning Ordinance. So, right out of the gate, they are looking to be excused from having to follow the law. But, that does not mean they are going to have a hard time stretching the law in their favor.
Remember, those appealing permit denials by the Zoning Officer are usually accompanied by their attorney, and a plethora of other so called professional support, such as a professional engineer, an architect, an accountant, maybe even a psychic. Hell, I have seen them bring a professional pitcher from the Philadelphia Phillies to "pitch" a drug rehab center.
Believe me, they come armed for bear. You will need a blunderbuss.
You will probably come alone, or with a neighbor or two. Bad form. You will get steamrolled.
Remember, the Appellant has had months, if not years, preparing their appeal. If you are lucky, you will have a full ten (10) days to review the material they submitted to the Zoning Officer for a permit. That is, if you are even aware of the fact that there is material to review.
You are going to be like a lamb led to slaughter when you go up against the Appellant, the Zoning Hearing Board, and the Solicitor for the Zoning Hearing Board.
If you listen to everything that is said at an appeal hearing, and you feel you got the raw end of the deal, and the decision was not in your favor, get in touch with me. I am not a lawyer, but I know a few good attorneys that concentrate on zoning and land use law. Plus, I can help you represent yourself, pro se, with an appeal. This can save you money and stress. This way you have a better chance at getting a fair shake with this process. The cost for using me, nada, nothing. I just enjoy the combat!