2 W. Market St.: Return of the Rij (2)

(2ndt in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)

Nicole Radzievich, “Bethlehem council to decide whether historic home can be an office.” Morning Call, October 3, 2018.

When last we met on the 2 W. Market issue, Herman Rij, as of June 2016, had won the right from the Bethlehem Zoning Commission to use this house as an office .

Although Gadfly hasn’t been able to find any details, the neighbors sued and “the state’s Commonwealth Court reversed the [Bethlehem Zoning] decision” in May or June or July 2017.

All was quiet in the legal realm, but, as one resident at the October 2, 2018, City Council meeting put it, “the investor [Herman Rij] continued the illegal operation of the non-permitted use in an RT-Residential District.”

Again, Gadfly has no details. Perhaps those in the know can fill in here. But I gather heat continued to be generated between the neighbors and Mr. Rij. And perhaps, Gadfly doesn’t know for sure, the neighbors were upset with the City for not enforcing action against Rij. Again, perhaps others can fill in here.

But in August 2018, after the appeals window to the Commonwealth Court closed, Rij/Morning Star Partners filed a petition to rezone the property from RT (high density residential) to CB (central business).

See the petition here.

The key elements are:

  1. The Subject Property is zoned RT (high density residential).
  2. The retail uses at the Subject Property are not permitted in the RT Zoning District.
  3. The Subject Property abuts a CB zoning district (central business) to the north.
  4. Retail uses are permitted in the CB zoning district.
  5. Petitioner will be able to restore and maintain the structures in their historic condition.
  6. Rezoning the property to CB will allow Morning Star to operate the retail uses as permitted uses, and to use the existing dwelling unit as a permitted financial service office.

Since it was assumed that action on that petition would occur at the October 2, 2018, City Council meeting, the Chambers were well stocked with combative neighbors that night.

More on their words next time.

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