(24th in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)
Which brings us to “testimony” by the City.
The City – in verbal testimony — is “not taking a position” on the petition, but, regarding a text amendment designed for a particular property, says, “we do suggest some caution.”
Gadfly is surprised that the City did not take a firm position on the petition. But he does not have much experience in these hearings. And thus a middle position might be a familiar one.
Gadfly was surprised because he felt that the City outlined a forceful case against the petition.
So strong did the points seem to Gadfly, that they seem self-evidently true, needing no elaborate explanation.
Here are the key points from the City’s presentation that Gadfly presented several posts back.
- 2 W. was not originally built with a commercial store front.
This intent of section 1304.04 was specifically to offer some flexibility to properties originally housing a store but now vacant or turned into (probably awkward) apartments. These are properties architecturally designed as corner properties – nothing like 2 W. Market. See below for some examples.
- Text amendments are not written for the relief of one party.
The City says there are other options for relief for owners of single-properties.
- It is unclear which or how many properties would be affected by this text amendment.
This seems commonsensically crucial knowledge, and which it is the responsibility of the petitioner to provide. This point was cited by both Planning Council members who voted “no.”
- There is no connection with the City’s Comprehensive Plan (which is linked on Gadfly’s sidebar – very interesting – take a look)
Seems almost to go without saying that the petitioner is responsible for positioning the proposal precisely in context with the Sacred Scripture on planning in Bethlehem.
Refresh yourself on the “corner store” ordinance that is the subject of the proposed amendment:
1304.04. Reuse of Corner Commercial Uses Allowed in the RT and RG Districts. The following uses shall be allowed in addition to uses allowed under Section 1304.01:
(a) As a special exception, uses that are small in scale, such as but not limited to a professional office, barber/beauty shop, retail store, nail salon, coffee shop, retail bakery, art gallery, real estate office, photography studio, green grocer, cafe, or antique store may be approved by the Zoning Hearing Board (“the Board”) provided all of the following requirements are met:
(1) The lot shall be at the corner of 2 streets. The primary building shall have an existing storefront character. This shall include such features as large first floor commercial window(s) and a main entrance at the corner or along one of the street facades abutting the commercial windows.
Is that anything like 2 W. Market both in original use and architecture?
Sesame Street used to have a “Which of these things belong together? Which of these things doesn’t belong?” segment. Still, Gadfly wonders?
Play that game here with corner properties, and ask yourself which was not the subject of this ordinance.
Gadfly thinks the City has made a proper case for not only slowing down with caution on this proposal but putting the brakes on and stopping completely.