Bed & Breakfast Conversion to Get Second Hearing

The proposed conversion of The Bethlehem Inn to offices to be heard again in August after City Council's anticipated adoption of new zoning law.


Two Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board appeals pertaining to the conversion of The into professional offices and to the erection of an electronic advertising sign at 2224 Industrial Drive will be heard Aug. 22 after City Council is expected to adopt its new zoning ordinance on Aug. 7.

John Brew of 262 Paradice Found LLC is seeking a special exception to convert a corner property at 476 N. New St., at the intersection with Market Street, into professional offices.

The 1845 three-story building has housed a bed and breakfast establishment owned and operated for the past 25 by Robert and Suzanne Virgilio, who wish to sell it to Brew.

to zoners for variances from the city’s off-street parking requirements and to relocate his community banking consulting business to the building in a residential zoned district. The inn has three parking spaces and five would be required for Brew’s 10 employees. Brew had said he would operate the office Monday to Friday, maintain the existing interior and exterior, and obtain parking for employees at the city’s Walnut Street Garage.

His appeal was turned down.

Residents opposed to the variances cited parking and traffic congestion, preservation of the integrity of the city’s historic district as single family dwellings, and a need to demonstrate hardship to meet variance requirements. They argued that the building could be converted easily to a single family dwelling, and that granting a variance would “take another piece of property off the residential roles.”

Under the city’s pending new zoning ordinance, which is expected to be adopted Aug. 7, Brew will now appeal the project as a special exception. The building has in the past housed students and dental and optometric offices.

Appeals by Brew and Lamar Advertising were on the June 19 zoners’ agenda, but continued to August. Zoning Hearing Board counsel Mickey Thompson explained that zoners will have to rule upon the appeals under the provisions of the new zoning ordinance.

Lamar Advertising of Allentown on behalf of owners Chon and Kun Lam are seeking variances to erect a 672-square-foot off-premises electronic changing message sign in an industrial zoning district. They are seeking a variance from the 25 foot maximum height permitted above the grade of Route 22 to a proposed 60 feet. In addition, they are seeking a variance from the minimum distance between electronic changing message signs, from 1,000 to a proposed 508.94 feet.  

Jon Geeting July 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Any new zoning ordinance that doesn't let the John Brews of the world use properties like this as-of-right is doing it all wrong. There is absolutely no reason he should need to get political approval to open his business there. He wants to lease the space, the building owner wants to lease him the space. That should be the end of it. It is not the neighbors' property and there is no plausible justification for letting them scotch this transaction.
John G. Lewis July 05, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Matters are not that simple, such as that if an agreement exists between a seller and buyer, concerning a piece of property, that this should be the end of matter, the end of consideration. I know that you said it 'off the cuff', so to speak, Jon; but the general principle is quite wrong. I know this area: it is the Moravian residential section near the old cemetary, correct? Loose, unthoughtful, and liberal, thinking such as this is what can in fact destroy the aesthetics of a town, or campus. Laissez faire attitudes, taken to an extreme, without a sense of propriety, are what debased many a fine community after World War 2. It depends on *what and where*, I say ... The world is far from being as simple, or as mundane, a place as your position assumes. The common good must be considered, that is, and though I grant this is not an easy end to ascertain or realize - yet it, typically, in these sort of situations, *must be appealed to*. - J. G. Lewis '90


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