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Zoners approve turning garage into guesthouse

Published December 17. 2010 05:00PM

A Palmerton couple may convert an existing garage on their property into a guesthouse.

The borough's Zoning Hearing Board unanimously agreed on Michael and Tara Pritchard a special exception and a variance to convert their garage, located at the rear of their property at 875 Delaware Avenue, into a dwelling.

There was no public opposition to the plan, said zoner Michael Bloomfield.-

In October, the board, after about a 40-minute recess, on a 2-0 vote agreed to grant the couple another continuance. Zoning board Chairman Gary Curran was absent at that meeting.

However, as part of that decision, the zoners instructed the couple to present its plans to the borough Planning Commission for its review, which the couple agreed to do.

Had the couple not agreed to the stipulation, board solicitor Jenny Cheng said the board would have had no choice but to reject the couple's request.

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 September, the 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, Cheng previously said.-

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 in his letter that 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.

Further, 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.

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