Bethlehem Central sues Zoning Board

School district seeks to overturn decision that halted property sale

The former school administration building at 90 Adams Place in Delmar.

The former school administration building at 90 Adams Place in Delmar. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— School’s Out had been looking to move into a larger space than what is available at their current location at a storefront on Delaware Avenue. The daycare provider is not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. A call to the business was not returned.

The district’s request for an adaptive reuse interpretation failed by a 4-1 vote in April. The board also unanimously voted against the district’s request for a use variance.

To obtain a use variance, the district had to prove a lack of return on investment, that the hardship to the property was unique, that the use variance would not alter the character of the neighborhood and the alleged hardship was not self created.

Most board members agreed the hardship was unique and the school district did not create the problem, but said the sale would change the neighborhood’s character, mostly due to traffic. Neighbors argued increased traffic due to buses and parents dropping off students at School’s Out would lead to an unsafe environment. They also said quality of life would diminish for residents and the move would destroy the unique character of the old Delmar neighborhood.

The district’s lawsuit challenges the Zoning Board’s determination that the building’s purchase by School’s Out would change the character of the neighborhood.

“It was a difficult decision, as I indicated at the time,” said Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Dan Coffey. “I do feel it would affect change to the character the neighborhood and we had overwhelming testimonials to that fact.”

The district’s lawsuit calls the Zoning Board’s determination “arbitrary, illegal or unsupported by substantial evidence in the administrative record” and also said “the Zoning Board cannot base its determination on local public pressure or determination opposition,” citing in-house and independent traffic studies that claimed “arrivals and departures are not excessive and should safely negotiate the travel patterns of 90 Adams.”

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