Heated exchange over lighting plan
“I remind everyone to conduct themselves in a civil manner,” instructed Chairman Philip Roeder at the start of the Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission’s Feb. 18 meeting in room B-504 at city hall.
It was more like ‘civil war’ when Joseph Pearl Jr. exploded after being told that previously installed, modern-looking floodlights with an exposed conduit at 127-129 E. Third St. were in violation of historic district code.
Pearl was also informed that window signage for his current tenant, New York Gyro, had not been approved.
“Why does it take two years to find something that’s been illegally done?” Pearl demanded about the lights. He claimed that he was “under the assumption” the fixtures had been approved when signage was okayed by the commission in 2017 for his former tenant, Greek Meat Guy.
Pearl complained that approved gooseneck lights he had purchased in 2016 for the building for George’s Light Lunch, which preceded Greek Meat Guy, couldn’t be easily installed. A metal beam blocked access to the indoor wiring, he explained.
Roeder asked Pearl, “When you realized the gooseneck lights weren’t going to work, why didn’t you come back to us?”
In reading his minutes from the HCC June 17, 2019 meeting on the approved sign band sign for New York Gyro, Historic Officer Jeff Long mentioned that it had been stipulated the conduit be removed and floodlights be replaced.
Vice Chairman Gary Lader put an end to the contentious discussion with his motion “that the existing lighting and conduit be removed.” Quickly seconded by Seth Cornish, the motion was supported unanimously as Pearl stormed out of the conference room.
The circa 1890 residential over commercial building is owned by Pearl and William A. Eaton through East Allen Rental LLC.
Prior to the ruckus, the mood had been considerably lighter when Antillana Meat Market owner Juan Rodriguez and contractor David Delos Santos were unanimously granted a certificate of appropriateness for their awning proposal for 702 E. Fourth St.
The approved 18-foot-long and 7-foot-long open-ended awnings flank a recessed corner entrance. According to Long, the applicants had successfully addressed board concerns expressed at a previous hearing.
Illuminated by three black gooseneck fixtures along one wall and two on the other, the black Sunbrella fabric would have the market’s name and logo printed on it in warm white. The flaps, with no lettering, were reduced from eight inches deep to six at the board’s request. Rodriguez and Santos were told to provide cut sheets of the lights to Roeder for final approval. They agreed to the commissioners’ stipulation that wiring for the lamps come from inside the building, with no conduits visible on the façade.
The brick building at the corner of E. Fourth and Buchanan streets, is owned by John Gross.
Representing 215 E. Morton St., Jessica Lucas and Tanya Allison from the Bethlehem Bureau of Health scored a COA for a Bethlehem, Easton, Northampton County (B.E.N.) lead hazard abatement project. Lucas and Allison explained how the program, funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, targets homes built before 1978 where children younger than age 6 reside or frequently visit.
The pair were allowed to replace lead paint-covered windows, a door and wooden handrail at the circa 1895 dwelling with new lead-free products. A fiberglass door with a large glass pane is to be installed at the front entrance. The four replacement windows for the façade facing E. Morton cannot be vinyl as proposed. It was also stipulated the replacements should closely fit the existing openings and the applicants provide Roeder with detailed product information.
Permission to replace windows along the side and rear of the house with nine previously-purchased American Craftsman vinyl windows was reluctantly granted. The board cited the out-of-public-sight locations and grant funding limitations for their decision.
Unanimous approval for the black aluminum handrail was granted pending it has a return stop with an enclosed loop that cannot catch clothing.
The two and one-half story duplex is owned by Matthew Giovannini.
The Bethlehem HCC is charged with determining if new signs or other alterations to a building’s exterior would be an appropriate fit for the neighborhood in one of three designated historic districts. Hearings are regularly scheduled on the third Monday of the month at city hall, unless there is a holiday that day.
Obtaining a certificate of appropriateness is only a first step for business owners and residents in a designated historic district who wish to make alterations to a building’s exterior. The HCC’s recommendations are later reviewed, then voted on by City Council before any project is allowed to proceed.