He said five tables will be moved, but no additional seating is being added.
Zoner Scott Unger called it a reasonable expansion of an existing structure.
McCarthy agreed, saying it’s been a non-conforming structure for many years.
Chew Street hotel
Richard Smith, owner of the Chew Street property once known as the West End Hotel, sought zoning approval to continue operating as a non-conforming use.
The city’s zoning law requires maximum hotel stays of 30 days. Unger said some people stay at Smith’s place for months and others have been there for a couple of years.
Unger explained that at a June zoning hearing board meeting, the owner argued his property should be “grandfathered” because the city’s ordinance, not the use of the hotel, is what changed.
Zoner Michael Rosenfeld said the place lacks many basic features offered by hotels, including parking, standard room amenities and a lounge.
Unger said people staying on each floor share one restroom, rather than every room having a private bathroom. And the hotel and its restaurant no longer are run by the same owner as they were in past years. (Jabber Jaws Bar & Grille is on the street level.)
Zoner Michael Engle said “this is an existing property that goes back to the days when we had stagecoaches” and it has a long tradition of people staying for extended periods of time. He said that establishes a non-conforming use for the property.
Zoners waived the 30-day maximum stay requirement, but a condition of approval was that the place must be inspected by the city, to ensure public health, safety and welfare under its rental unit licensing act.
The board spent well over an hour on Bruce Loch’s proposal to build two units --probably a twin home -- on his vacant lot at 1737 W. Pennsylvania St. He said each 1,200-square foot unit will have two parking spaces.
Loch said he has built more than 1,000 homes in Allentown in the past 40 years. He also is the developer who plans to build a 33-story skyscraper in Allentown.
Loch maintained traffic on Roth Avenue makes his property undesirable for a single-family home. He said buyers will look at Roth Avenue as a real detriment to a single-family dwelling, particularly if they have children. “It might be extremely difficult to sell. I’m not sure I’d want to build a single-family dwelling unit on this lot.”
He described the two homes he proposes as starter-type units rather than family-style units.
Objectors didn’t like the idea of two homes on the property. At least one said she doesn’t want any home built there.
Resident Barbara Parry objected because she said Loch plans to rent rather than sell the homes, but McCarthy explained the zoning board generally does not get involved in decisions regarding rental vs. ownership.
Resident Sandra Long disagreed with Loch’s description of Roth Avenue as a major thoroughfare where traffic has increased dramatically. She described it as a quiet neighborhood and said Roth Avenue has not gotten busier in the seven years she has lived there.
The proposal apparently meets most requirements of the city’s zoning law except for a clear sight triangle issue.
Unger challenged Loch’s assertions about traffic safety because he is not a professional engineer.
Atty. William Malkames, Loch’s lawyer, requested a continuance so an engineer can testify on Loch’s behalf.
The board agreed to delay action until an engineer can testify at a future meeting.