Bethlehem Residents Pack Town Hall to Oppose Drug Rehab

Attorneys argue Bethlehem can legally deny drug rehab center near Bethlehem Catholic High School

Attorneys argued Wednesday that Bethlehem's zoning board has many valid reasons to deny plans to open a drug rehabilitation center next to Bethlehem Catholic High School, reports The Express-Times.

Such centers can only be allowed in residential neighborhoods if it’s in the best interest of the city, benefits public welfare and makes a substantial improvement to the property, attorneys Joseph Leeson Jr. and Christopher Spadoni said, according to the Express-Times.

A proposal to open a 70-bed inpatient rehab facility on the 100 block of Dewberry Avenue meets none of those requirements, they argued, reports The Express-Times.

About 100 Bethlehem residents packed Town Hall on Wednesday night to oppose the project.

The Express-Times reports that Blake Marles, the attorney for the rehab center's developer Abraham Atiyeh, made several legal arguments why the center should be allowed in the former Calvary Baptist Church.

Bethlehem zoning expressly allows residential treatment facilities in all of the city’s residential neighborhoods, including this one, because city officials must find the use “relatively benign,” Marles said, reports The Express-Times.

The zoning board plans to meet at 6 p.m. March 5 to vote on the proposal after seven hearings dating back to October, according to The Express-Times.


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