Palmerton zoners deny variance for new garage
It's back to the drawing board for a Northampton County man who wants to build a garage for residential purposes in Palmerton.
Palmerton Borough's Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday unanimously agreed to deny a variance request to George Hoagland of Easton.
Hoagland sought a variance to erect a 24-by-24-foot garage along an unimproved section of Gorman Avenue near Edgemont Avenue in the west end of town.
Hoagland told zoners he only wanted to build on one of the three parcels he purchased at the property, located in a Planned Development zoning district.
"I do not have the intent of putting up a primary structure on each of the parcels," Hoagland said. "I am looking to put a maintenance garage so that I can maintain the property to eventually build a home."
However, resident Richard Nothstein, who is also a member of Borough Council and said he has several lots nearby, voiced his concern.
"I'm not opposed to him doing what he's planning if it's done wisely; not 10 to 15 years from now if it's going to become an eyesore," Nothstein said. "That's my only concern; the future."
After over a 20-minute recess, zoning board solicitor Jenny Cheng informed Hoagland of the zoner's decision.
Cheng said the denial was based on the fact the initial application for the variance was premature because the subject property located in a Planned Development zoning district and Hoagland's proposed plan should have first been sent to the borough's Planning Commission for their written comments, review and recommendation.
In his rejection letter dated Sept. 16, borough zoning officer Duane Dellecker noted that a section of the borough's zoning ordinance permits residential activity in the PD zoning district provided the use is within a planned development.
Another section of the borough's zoning ordinance allows a garage as a residential accessory use, Dellecker said. However, a section of the borough's zoning ordinance limits the size of residential accessory structures, such as a garage, to 60-percent of the principal building's floor area, he said.
Dellecker also said a section of the borough zoning ordinance defines an accessory structure as "a structure serving a purpose incidental to the use of the principal building and located on the same lot as the principal building."
As a result, a variance is required to allow construction of the garage on a lot without an existing principal building, Dellecker said.
In the second case, Scott Smith, of 631 Franklin Avenue, was granted permission to add a carport to an existing garage, zero feet from the side property line and three feet from the alley.
The zoners unanimously granted Smith a variance to the side and rear setback requirements. However, the zoners recommended that Smith install a gutter to avoid water runoff.
A section of the borough zoning ordinance requires a minimum setback of three feet from the side property line and five feet from the public alley.
In his rejection letter, dated Sept. 20, Dellecker said Smith has proposed to attach a 10-by-20-foot carport to an existing 10-by-20-foot one-car garage located in an R-2, Low Density Residential, zoning district.
The existing garage is located along and up to the common property line of the attached dwelling unit, and the proposed carport would be zero feet from the side property line and three-feet from the alley, Dellecker noted.
However, he said a section of the borough's zoning ordinance requires a minimum setback of three-feet from the side property line and a minimum of five-feet from the public alley.