Guridy complimented Atiyeh for being willing to reduce the number of occupants in the facility but said he’s very concerned about statements that “if this project is not allowed, they can put a work release program there. I’m concerned if something worse gets in there, because it’s a neighborhood that we’re trying to revitalize.”

Malkames revealed that Mayor Ed Pawlowski wrote a letter to the zoning board Monday about the case, but McCarthy said that letter is not part of the case’s public record. “We’ll make our decision on the testimony we’ve heard,” said McCarthy.

Linden Street grocery store approved

In another case, the zoning board approved a request to open a combination grocery store and take-out sandwich shop on the first floor of 1101 Linden St., which had last been used as a flower shop and once was a Greek grocery store.

Maria Reyes and her husband Raul Castro hope to open the store in three to four months, primarily to serve that neighborhood. They intend to be open seven days a week, but no later than 9 p.m.

Castro said they want to “give service to the community.”

The Allentown couple will lease space in the building from Rachelle and Richard Thatcher of Coplay, who acquired it at a tax sale in December. Richard Thatcher said the entire building and the garages behind it need to be repaired, which he intends to have done.

The only objector to that plan was neighbor Kathryn Burke, who questioned the need for another grocery/take-out business, saying she’s counted at least 13 similar businesses in the immediate neighborhood.

McCarthy said the zoning board has no jurisdiction over how many similar businesses are in an area. “One has the right to succeed or fail.”

Malkames, who also represented the applicants in that case, told zoners there has been a long history of retail uses in that building and asked zoners to give Reyes and Castro “a chance to succeed in this business.”