Tamaqua's Zoning Hearing board helped fill a gap in the borough's Safety Corridor, as board members Monday voted to allow the use of an East Mauch Chunk Street building to change from bar to residence.
The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership purchased the Tiki Bar, located at 20 E. Mauch Chunk St., from Edward Kashmer for $23,000 in October 2013.
The Tiki Bar had been vacant for more than a year, following a troubled history with two Liquor Control Board violations (2009 and 2011), an assault inside, an assault outside, a theft of money from a patron seated at the bar and a fight inside the bar. In addition, the business was one of six hit in a burglary spree in 2012.
The Tamaqua Area Community Partnership formed the Tamaqua Safety Initiative in 2011, drawing together representatives from the borough's police force, Chamber of Commerce, citizens and the St. Luke's Universal Health Network. The Safety Corridor identified by the initiative runs south to north from Spruce and Center streets to Mauch Chunk Street, and includes the 100 blocks of Pine and Railroad streets.
Micah Gursky, Tamaqua borough council president, represented the TSI at the zoning hearing board meeting. He is director of the Community Partnership.
The TSI sought two variances from the board; one to change the existing nonconforming use (bar) to another nonconforming use (single family dwelling) in a general commercial zoning district, and a second to get relief from parking requirements for a single family, detached dwelling, which is two off-street spots. The parking lot which was used by bar patrons is not part of the property, Gursky explained.
The board unanimously granted both variances. Gursky said that the TSI does not have a firm plan for the property, other than accomplishing various cosmetic repairs and possibly renting or selling it.
The second floor was previously used as a two-bedroom apartment. The only entrance to the apartment is through the barroom.
"The TSI had received donations which allowed us to purchase the building," Gursky said. "Our goal was to prevent it from becoming a bar again."
Before the meeting, the zoning hearing board reorganized, keeping officers in place. Richard Clemson is chairman and Frank Kane is vice chairman. Board members are Karl Smulligan and Alfred Hadesty. The solicitor is Robert Frycklund.