The Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board unanimously rejected developer Abraham Atiyeh’s plan to convert a vacant church on Dewberry Avenue to a 70-bed inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center on Monday night.
Atiyeh told The Express-Times that he intends to appeal the decision.
The land use plan, hashed out over eight separate sessions of the Zoning Hearing Board, was opposed by , City Council and a group of neighbors who hired their own attorney.
The that putting a rehabilitation clinic next to a school poses a danger to students. Neighbors and city council also argued that a drug treatment facility is not a desirable land use in that mostly residential neighborhood.
Atiyeh and his representatives argued that in Bethlehem or the Lehigh Valley and that this facility poses no threat to the neighborhood.
In one of the meetings, Atiyeh tried to inject some star power into his argument by bringing in former to tout the benefits of rehabilitation clinics. Noles testified that such a clinic turned his life around.
The board offered no explanation for its decision. That will be made clear when it issues its formal written opinion in 45 days.