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Palmerton zoning board grants continuance

Published September 25. 2010 09:00AM

A hearing for a Palmerton man who wants to convert an existing garage on his property into a guesthouse has been continued.

After a brief recess, the borough's Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday unanimously agreed to grant a continuance for Michael Pritchard until 7 p.m. Oct. 25, said board solicitor Jenny Cheng.

"They thought more investigation was needed before they could make a final decision," Cheng said. "The board didn't feel they had enough information before them to make a decision, and it was to give the applicant ample time to gather the information they're requesting."

Pritchard, who resides at 875 Delaware Avenue, sought a special exception and a variance to convert the garage, located to the rear of his property, into a dwelling.

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 his rejection letter dated Aug. 11, zoning Officer Duane Dellecker said the property is located in an R-3 (Residential/Light Commercial) zoning district, where Pritchard has proposed to convert an 875-square-feet (2-story) garage into a guesthouse. However, Dellecker said 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.

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 will require action of the board.

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