Community Government

Resident Says Handicapped Space Needed, Council Disagrees

Est. Read Time: 3 mins

Hellertown Borough Council voted 3-2 not to reconsider a request for a handicapped parking space on Keilman Avenue Monday night, in spite of a request that they do so by a friend of the woman who applied to have the space reserved.

Ron Shegda told council he is a longtime neighbor of Anne Rayan, 85, who requested the space because of a physical disability.

Shegda explained that Rayan was unable to appear at the meeting and asked him to be her advocate.

“Her legs are very swollen right now, which is why she can’t get out the door,” he said.

Shegda disagreed with testimony by borough staff at an earlier meeting that Rayan’s driveway is closer to her front door than the on-street space she requested be made a handicapped spot.

Shegda was not present at the earlier meeting.

He said on-street parking wasn’t a problem on Rayan’s narrow, block-long side street until construction began on a new modular home.

“The owners of this property have two cars, and they’re already parking in front of Anne Rayan’s home, causing her distress,” Shegda told council.

He said she needs to be able to park on the street because her driveway is used by caregivers who frequently visit to help attend to her needs.

In spite of her disability, Shegda said “she is a licensed driver” who values her independence. “She motors down the highway to her doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store…”

He added that Rayan’s mother once requested and received a handicapped parking space on that street in the same location–as evidenced by an extant concrete footer where the sign post was once located.

“What’s good for her mother should be good for her as well,” he argued.

Council members and staff disputed the claim by Shegda that a long driveway adjacent to her home is insufficient to meet Rayan’s parking needs.

“I heard nothing tonight other than wanting to reserve a spot in front of my house for myself, as I would like to do on Ilona Drive where I live,” councilman John Bate said. “You sold us tonight on why she wants a parking space in front of her house.”

Council president Tom Rieger, who was not present for the vote on Rayan’s request last month, said he would accept the recommendations of staff–including Police Chief Robert Shupp and Public Works Director Tom Henshaw–to deny the request.

“The argument I heard, Ron, is ‘We want to keep the driveway open for friends (and) family,'” Rieger said. “Those people who are assisting her could walk (to her door from the street).”

Mayor Richard Fluck ultimately cast the deciding vote on the matter because the council vote was split 2-2, with Rieger and Bate voting against reconsideration of the request, and councilmen James Hill–who voted to approve the handicapped parking space last month–and Mike McKenna voting for it.

Council vice president Joe Pampanin and councilman Herb Payung were absent.

Councilman Richard Staffieri abstained from voting, because he said he has known Rayan a long time and felt it would be inappropriate to vote on the matter.

He abstained after council solicitor Michael Corriere assured him there was no legal requirement that he abstain.

Staffieri voted to deny Rayan’s request last month, but said he would not have voted then had he known that the requester was someone he knows.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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