A 30-by-40 foot tent may remain on the property at the former New Jersey Zinc Company's West Plant in Palmerton until next spring.

That decision came after the borough's zoning hearing board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to grant a variance for the project at the site on Mauch Chunk Road.

George Petrole, chief operating officer of Northface Development LLC in Lehighton, sought an interpretation of a section of the borough's zoning ordinance, as well as a special exception and variance to the four-month rule for tension membrane structures, a metal frame with a canvas covering.

The borough's zoning regulations say such a structure can only be up four months at a time in any 12-month period.

The variance is necessary so Northface can store equipment and be able to do some minor maintenance outside of the weather. Officials plan to move the structure around the site, and want to have it up for an extended period of time.

Petrole said his company purchased the site on New Year's Eve 2009.

Since then, Petrole said the buildings have been taken down, and remediation work has been underway, according to the guidelines of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

That has required bringing some rather large equipment onto the property, which Petrole said requires routine daily maintenance.

"Our intention is to move this structure eastward," Petrole said. "It's the only existing concrete pad on the site that isn't covered by dirt."

Petrole noted that the total property about 140 acres is located in an industrial zone, and is a construction site in progress.

"Our intention is to have the tent up for another six months, and move it eastward, because we will be (wrapping up) the remediation westward," he said. "Then, we would move it, and we would reapply for a permit."

Borough zoning officer Duane Dellecker said, "This is an unusually large piece of property. This is necessary site improvement."

A previous zoning permit expired in April. The structure was first erected on April 15, so the permit was granted until April 15, 2015.