(36th in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)
So now let’s make the case for the other side.
Why should the Court refuse to authorize use of this residence as a business office through a text amendment?
- we recognize the high quality, quite expensive renovations to the house
- but businesses belong in zoned business spaces, such as Broad St.
- this house is incontrovertibly in a residential zone; an office is not a residence
- the renovated building is beautiful, but it is not a home
- the essence of a residential neighborhood is a sense of community
- community means people sharing life together day and night, all week, all year – a lifetime
- businesses do not add community to a residential neighborhood
- the demonstrable trend in our neighborhood is to convert buildings back to residential use
- a trend identified in and fostered by Bethlehem’s Comprehensive Plan
- we want to avoid opening a door, setting a precedent, embarking on a slippery slope that will reverse that trend
- in doing so, we are aligned with the vision for the City offered in the introduction to the Bethlehem Comprehensive Plan
- in doing so, we are aligned with the intention of section 1323 of our Zoning Code, often affirmed by the courts, to remedy incompatibilities when the opportunity arises
- on the contrary, this amendment offers no connection with the Comprehensive Plan
- on the contrary, this amendment violates the spirit of the specific “store front” Zoning Code text it amends
- no reason has even been given to expect any good for anybody but the homeowner
- this amendment is illegal spot zoning
- this amendment is contrary to the aspirational direction of a zoning code
- the highest court in the state has already spoken on this issue
- Neither the city planning commission nor the administration are explicitly recommending this change
- only 2 of 13 testifying in support of the petitioner at City Council were neighbors
- those speaking in support of the petition mainly included principals, employees, clients of the petitioner, local business people, and past owners of the house
- virtually all testimony was on the character of the people and quality of the renovations not on the legal issues
- renovating houses in this area at high cost is normal, routine, not unusual
- we are people of good character too and have likewise spent thousands and thousands of high quality dollars on our houses
- renovation occurred during an appeal period and thus was done at the owner’s risk
- expert testimony, not anecdotal evidence, showed there is an unfilled demand for these Historic District houses as residences
- if the petition is approved, we will sue, causing the City to incur yet additional legal fees and wasted time
Once again Gadfly needs you to weigh in. He has already made two tweaks on the case for the Marketers as a result of comments.
Is this a fair representation of the testimony we have heard against the petition over the two long meetings? Is this a good summary of the opposition case? Are there points wrong? Are there points missing? Are there signs of bias?
Is this, for instance, a handy checklist for Council members to be considering as they prepare to make a decision?
Gadfly will again modify this list based on appropriate comments. Weigh in.
Still not time to argue. Make sure we understand both sides first.