A Lower Towamensing Township man may operate an automobile service station as a home occupation.
The township's Zoning Hearing Board unanimously agreed on Tuesday to grant a request by David Christman for a variance and special exception to operate the business at his home at 3224 Fireline Road.
However, as part of their ruling, the zoners attached a list of conditions for Christman to adhere to: The business shall be conducted from one bay of the current three-bay garage on the property; the business shall be limited to state inspections, oil changes and minor vehicle repairs such as alternators, water pumps and suspension issues; no painting of vehicles shall be done; no tires shall be inventoried for sale; no retail tire business shall develop; the hours of operation shall be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. as pertains to vehicle traffic at the home occupation; no customer vehicles shall be parked on the property, outside of the containment area (this excludes the applican't personal vehicles); the business shall be operated by the applicant and his wife; the applicant shall have no employees; and the applicant shall comply with all environmental requirements related to disposal of oil, batteries, tires, and any other environmental hazards.
Other conditions are that: lights shall be specified in Section 505 of the township zoning ordinance; an Arbor Vitae surround shall be installed before the business starts; the tree height shall average at least 8-feet, with less than a 12-inch open space between the foliage at the time of planting; the containment area shall not be less than 64-square-feet with a 12-foot entry opening; dead Arbor Vitae shall be replaced within three months of their demise; the special exception is granted only to the applicant, and shall apply to only one bay of the garage; the property shall remain zoned residential and shall not be sold or marketed as a service station; the applicant shall comply with all local and state requirements to maintain a state inspection license; and the applicant shall comply with Section 512 (7) of the zoning ordinance.
But, a request for a variance to erect a sign larger in size than permitted by Section 512 of the zoning ordinance, related to home occupations, was denied. The signage shall be as set forth in Section 512 of the zoning ordinance.
Also, a request for a variance to store vehicles for repair or maintenance at the proposed service station, outside the one bay garage at the property located at 3224 Fireline Road, Palmerton, was granted.
However, as part of their ruling, the zoners attached several conditions as well: All customer parking shall be within the containment area; and all vehicles shall be licensed and registered with the appropriate Department of Motor Vehicles.
Last month, zoners conducted an on-site meeting at Christman's property, which is located in a R-4, Medium Density Residential District.
That meeting came after the zoners held an initial zoning hearing with Christman, but chose to continue the matter so that they could do the site assessment.
Christman's request was previously denied by township zoning officer Duane Dellecker, who, in his rejection letter dated Nov. 30, noted a section of the zoning ordinance "prohibits the storage of materials or products related to the home occupation from being stored outside of buildings."
Dellecker said in his letter that the applicant's intent is that vehicles awaiting repair would be parked on the property for short periods of time.
Also as part of his letter, Dellecker noted a section of the zoning ordinance "limits the size of an advertising sign to a maximum of 2-square-feet." However, Dellecker said the applicant's letter of intent "indicates a 12-square-feet sign being proposed."
Dellecker also states in his letter that a section of the zoning ordinance requires home occupation be incidental or secondary to the use of the property as a residence, and limits them to those occupations customarily conducted within a dwelling unit. But, Dellecker said the applicant's letter of intent "indicates the main use of the property will continue to be residential. However, an auto service station is not considered to be a type of home occupation that is customarily conducted within a dwelling unit."
Finally, Dellecker states in his letter that a section of the zoning ordinance requires a home occupation to be conducted within a dwelling unit, provided that by Special Exception of the zoning hearing board may permit the home occupation subject to such controls they deem necessary. But, Dellecker said in his letter the applicant's letter of intent indicates he plans to conduct the home occupation out of his detached garage.