Lehigh Valley

Allentown zoners continue two cases

Board member recuses himself

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Monday night was an unusual night for the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board, as neither case on the docket received a verdict and both were continued.

In the evening's first case, board member Derrick Davis recused himself because of business ties to a competitor of the applicant — Front Development LLC and  Pennsylvania Venture Capital Inc. — after the hearing was already underway. Pennsylvania Venture Capital is owned by developer Abe Atiyeh.

Davis' decision left Chairman Robert Knauer and zoner Alan Salinger holding the outcome at their discretion, and legal counsel for Front Development sought and received a continuance for a future date.

All testimony given Monday night is officially expunged from the record.

During the testimony David Harte, a vice president with Front Development, said his company wanted to redevelop an industrial warehouse built in 1937 and located at 948 N. Front St. The warehouse, Harte testified, had been used as a butchering and meat packing facility for many years, until it closed in 2003.

Harte testified his company proposed to use the building as a storage facility for beds, tables and carpet cleaning equipment from various senior citizen and personal care facilities they own, such as Whitehall Manor and Saucon Valley Manor.

In the second case, an appeal of St. Elmo Development to receive a variance for Marie Oliver to demolish an existing self storage structure to construct a 70,000 square-foot elementary and middle school, Excelsior Christian Academy, at 1940 Fairview St. was also continued.

The case was delayed when Oliver acknowledged during preliminary questioning that she does not own the property, but is negotiating with St. Elmo Development LLC — an Atiyeh company — to buy it.

"Since you don't own the property, you don't have legal standing to proceed," said Knauer. The case ended there and no sworn testimony was disseminated.

No dates were provided for when the appeal will be heard.

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