A Palmerton couple will reappear before the borough's zoning hearing board in its quest to convert an existing garage on their property into a guesthouse.

Michael and Tara Pritchard's request recently went before the borough's Planning Commission, which recommended that it be treated as an apartment conversion, said borough Manager Rodger Danielson.

As a result, the couple will reappear before the zoners at 7 p.m. Dec. 15, at which time they will again present their case before the zoners.

Last month, zoners agreed to grant the Pritchards another continuance. However, as part of their decision, the zoners included the caveat that the couple present its plans to the borough Planning Commission for its review.

The couple is in search of a special exception and a variance to convert the garage, located to the rear of their property at 875 Delaware Avenue, into a dwelling.

Upon agreement, Cheng said the couple would then be granted a continuance. Had the couple not agreed to the stipulation, Cheng said the board would have had no choice but to reject the issue.

In September, zoners granted the Pritchards a continuance because the board didn't feel they had enough information before them to make a decision, and to give the couple additional time to gather more information.

A special exception is required for the use, and a variance is required to allow the conversion of an existing non-principal building to a dwelling unit.

In his rejection letter dated Aug. 11, Dellecker said the property is located in an R-3 (Residential/Light Commercial) zoning district, where the couple wants to convert an 875-square-feet (2-story) garage into a guesthouse.

However, Dellecker said a section of the zoning ordinance allows the "conversion of an existing building into one or more dwelling units" only by special exception action of the board.

Another section of the zoning ordinance limits the conversion of an existing building to a dwelling unit provided it is within a principal building in existence for at least 20 years, Dellecker said. A garage is not an existing principal building, he said.

Dellecker said in order to allow the conversion of an accessory building into another principal building or dwelling unit on the same lot as that of the main dwelling unit requires action of the board.