Atiyeh hospital proposal voted down
The Allentown Zoning Hearing Board showed little grace for developer Abraham Atiyeh's proposed God's Grace Adolescent Treatment Center during Tuesday night's meeting, rejecting the proposal by a 3-0 vote.
As board chairman Daniel McCarthy read the verdict following their public deliberations, Atiyeh raised his eyebrows, tilted his head and shrugged his shoulders indicating at least outwardly the decision was hardly unexpected
The center would have been the region's first facility dedicated to treating 12 to 18-year-old boys who would have been confined there for 28 days to address their addictions. Atiyeh needed the board's blessing because it would have surpassed the number of patients allowed by Allentown law. Added to the mix was that proposed facility is located smack-dab in the middle of a residential area, located at 324-330 N. Sixth St. Atiyeh planned to put the operations that could house up to 87 patients in the three-level Hunsicker Building, last utilized at a county-run women's correctional facility from 1988 through 2011.
On August 26th the board heard testimony for three hours on the proposed facility that drew both supporters and detractors who voiced a bevy of opinions late into the night. On Tuesday night the board rendered their decision as though they were double-parked, immediately after the meeting commenced.
"It would be more or less detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood," said board member Michael Engle.
During his statement McCarthy noted that he did not question the need for such a facility in the Lehigh Valley, however, he could not justify its placement in that particular location.
"It presents me with some serious concerns that it can properly fulfill zoning law at that particular location," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the volume of patients, along with the staff needed to run the facility would "have an affect on the neighborhood." He added that he was unconvinced from Atiyeh's previous testimony that the building was "unique" enough to require the zoning relief sought by the developer. McCarthy went on to add that Atiyeh had not proven to him that he could find another building that was compatible to this building from which to host his operations.
"I just don't feel this property, this building, is suitable for that use in the zoning ordinance," he said in conclusion.
Following the meeting, Atiyeh said he would contest the decision in Lehigh County court.
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