A former retail store in Palmerton may be converted into a pair of apartments.
The borough's Zoning Hearing Board unanimously agreed recently to grant a variance request to Paul Rueda for the former retail store and apartment at 757 Church Street.
However, as part of their decision, the zoners attached the condition that each apartment must have at least one door for ingress and egress that has a minimum width of 36 inches, according to board solicitor Jenny Cheng.
There was no public opposition to the plan, said Cheng, who added that the establishment was abandoned several years ago, at which point it had its use reverted to residential.
In his rejection letter, dated Nov. 14, 2012, addressed to Eric B. Peters, owner, of 1125 Georgetown Road, Boulder, CO, borough zoning officer Duane Dellecker noted that the conversion of an existing building to one or more dwelling units is not permitted in the R-2 zoning district.
Additionally, Dellecker stated in his letter that the zoning ordinance lists specific lot size, extra criteria, floor area, and off-street parking requirements that must be met.
Rueda is also in search of a variance from the R-2 district permitted uses and area requirements. But, Dellecker noted in his letter that the requested conversion must meet criteria set forth for apartment use.
Dellecker noted the property is located in an R-2, Medium Density Residential Zoning District.
The proposal is to convert the use of the first floor of the structure to a second apartment, Dellecker said. The first floor of this structure was formerly used as a retail corner store, he said.
"However, Section 808.G of the borough zoning ordinance lists a nonconforming use as being abandoned if the use has been abandoned for 365 consecutive days," Dellecker said. "As the former use was abandoned many years ago, the use of this property reverts to strictly residential."
Dellecker added that Section 306.8 of the zoning ordinance lists the conversion of an existing building into one or more dwelling units as not permitted in the R-2 zoning district.
Also, Dellecker stated Section 307. A of the zoning ordinance requires a minimum average of 4,000-square-feet of lot area for each apartment in an R-2 zoning district. The application, as submitted, did not indicate the existing lot size to allow this office the opportunity to adequately evaluate compliance with this requirement, he said.
In addition, Dellecker noted that Section 402.A.35 of the zoning ordinance lists specific criteria for an apartment use. This application, as submitted, does not address this issue, he said.
Dellecker added that Section Section 601. A, Table 6.1 of the zoning ordinance addresses off-street parking. The regulations require two off-street parking spaces for each dwelling unit, and only one off-street parking space per conversion apartment that only includes one bedroom, or is an efficiency unit, he said. The application, as submitted, does not address this issue, Dellecker stated.
Lastly, Dellecker noted that Section 802. C of the zoning ordinance requires each dwelling unit to include a minimum of 500-square-feet of habitable, indoor, heated floor area. The application, as submitted, does not address this issue, he said.
"As no details were submitted to this office as part of the application, we could not evaluate compliance with the lot size, extra criteria, off-street parking, or minimum floor area requirements of the zoning ordinance," he said. "Due to the above listed reason, your permit cannot be approved at this time."