An Allentown zoning hearing on Monday denied Abe Atieh’s plans to build a condominium in Allentown’s Union Terrace neighborhood, but Atietie’s 16-year land development battle is far from over.
The prolific Lehigh Valley developer said it plans to appeal the denial to the Lehigh County General Court.
Atiyeh wanted to rezoning two of its lots at 303-319 Elmo Street from “park” to “medium density housing” so that 246 condominiums could be built on the site. The lot was occupied by a concrete batching plant and a limestone quarry.
Atie and his attorney, John Vanlevaney, argued that the city’s 2010 zoning ordinance was invalid because zoning for “parks” offered few viable options for Atie to develop property. All other land parcels designated as city parks are either publicly owned or owned by non-profit organizations.
The decision followed a zoning meeting in June, where the board heard three hours of testimony from Atieh, the city, and opponents before refusing to make a final decision on the case.
Atiyeh uses the site for self-storage, which allowed for zoning differences, but claims the business is failing, losing $30,000 each year.
Board members were not persuaded by Atiet’s arguments and sided with the city, which opposed Atiet’s application. claimed that it did not provide
Board members agreed with Mr. Rosenthal and suggested to Mr. Attie that there are some rationales for developing land by applying for special exception zoning differences, as they have done for operating self-storage facilities. I said there are options.
“We believe there are reasonable uses available,” said Board Chairman Robert Knauer.
At a meeting in June, former Allentown Planning Director Eileen Woodward said the city had received two applications and one sketch plan to build self-storage units during the last year.
Board members also expressed concern that the addition of 246 condos would strain neighborhoods and cause excessive traffic congestion.
“For this particular project, St. Elmo Street is frequently flooded and fairly narrow, so the impact on traffic is significant,” said Director Scott Unger.
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Several neighbors have attended previous zoning meetings to voice the same concerns, saying the condo units would irreparably disrupt their neighborhoods.
Atiyeh said he plans to appeal the board’s written decision as soon as it is announced, which is expected within the next few weeks. He lamented the board’s decision and accused the city of neglecting its responsibility to encourage new housing construction in Allentown.
“It’s sad that everyone is saying they want affordable housing in the city,” said Atie. “I offered 240 units and they refused.”
He said the condo will sell for a market price of $249,000.
The Atiyeh have long fought to rezoning land to build houses. In 2006 and his 2020, the city’s planning staff and planning commission recommended rezoning the land for housing. In both cases, however, Athier faced opposition from its neighbors, and the city council rejected the rezoning.
According to the city’s zoning ordinance, park designation is “primarily to recognize public recreational sites, cemeteries, and public/quasi-public open spaces.”
Wake-up call reporter Lindsay Webber can be reached at 610-820-6681. firstname.lastname@example.org.
https://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-nws-allentown-developer-abe-atiyeh-condos-denied-zoning-board-20221002-gyolfdqgrvfbzcz52g2xnvax44-story.html#ed=rss_www.mcall.com/arcio/rss/category/news/local/ Allentown zoner denies plans for Abe Atie condo on former industrial site – The Morning Call