Town of Bethlehem says zoning code 'too severe'

Saying he was fighting to just survive, Glenmont Alteri's owner Harvey Quinn went to trial over what he called unjust regulations preventing him from having a banner at his business. If he lost the case, he said, he could be facing six months to a year-and-a-half in jail.

Although he could still lose the case, which is currently under litigation, the maximum jail penalty has been lowered to 15 days. However, Quinn retained Albany attorney William Ryan, who had conference with the town justice and a town attorney and got a "concession on record of the court," that Quinn will receive no jail time.

As a result of the case, the town board voted unanimously during its meeting Wednesday, June 11, to amend the fees portion of Section 128 of the Bethlehem zoning code and reduce its maximum penalty from six months in jail to 15 days in jail and/or a $350 fine per violation.

The reason the town decided to change the code, according to Town Attorney James Potter, is because Quinn's trial brought the stiff penalty to light.

"There is one current enforcement proceeding that brought it to our attention, and based on that, we thought it was too severe," Potter told the Town Board after Councilman Mark Hennessey asked about the change.

After the meeting, Potter confirmed to Spotlight Newspapers that the "enforcement proceeding" was Quinn's current zoning trial.

"You want your zoning [code] to have teeth," Potter said, "but ours takes a bite out."

Continuing, Potter said the town has determined that the six-month jail sentence as "severe and beyond what the town ever wants to see," but added that the 15-day jail sentence counts "per violation," and that successive sentences could be tacked on for multiple violations.

Potter is not trying Quinn's case on behalf of the town; Assistant Town Attorney Andrew Kirby is handling prosecution.

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