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Parryville ZHB needs time before making ruling on Riverwalck

Published March 11. 2011 05:00PM

Not quite yet.

Although attorney Carole Walbert was prepared to hear a ruling for her client, Mark Stemler, on the Riverwalck Saloon variance issues, the Parryville Zoning Hearing said Thursday night that they need more time before making a decision. The restaurant is located at 8 Centre Street, Parryville.

Greg Hopstock, one of the three member board, said that board members needed a little time to read over Walbert's Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law and time to go back over Stemler's testimony before making a decision.

Attorney Greg Mousseau, solicitor for the board, said that the board has 45 days, but Walbert said that the board should have been able to make a decision that night.

The two attorneys had other differences of opinion earlier in the hearing when the Mousseau asked Lester Wentz, previous owner of Walck's Restaurant, which is now called Riverwalck Saloon, to answer a few questions about seating ideals while he ran the restaurant.

Walbert said that she objected to Wentz's testimony because the zoning hearing board in not an investigative board and by law did not have the right to ask anyone to testify and that she, nor her client were aware that Wentz was asked to testify.

After raising her objections and having them noted, Wentz answered that he had seated 140 people in the restaurant, 70 people in the upstairs dining room and 70 in the downstairs area.

Wentz testified that he had no restrictions on how many people could occupy the restaurant or had not had any restrictions as far as sewage issues, but only had seating for that many people because that was all he felt he could serve in that space. He noted also that he had no restriction on parking issues.

After his testimony, the record was closed.

Walbert said that the Zoning Hearing Board should have been able to announce a decision by the end of the meeting. She said that she objected to the delay, but understood that the board had ruled otherwise.

"They come back in 45 days to rule and if my client accepts their ruling, its over, if my client objects, then we will appeal to the judge," said Walbert.

According to a legal notice that was printed in the TIMES NEWS in November, Stemler is seeking approval for several special exceptions from the zoning ordinance relating to set backs and footage, parking requirements, allowing usage of decks/porches seasonally, a variance from dimensional requirements for parking spaces, a variance to eliminate the off-street loading space additional requirement, plus to convert one of the outbuildings to a garage and storage facility.

He also wants to add attic space in one of the secondary outbuildings and seeks a variance to modify the structure. He also seeks a variance to convert a second outbuilding to allow the building to be used for covered parking and storage and to convert the second building from residential use to covered motorcycle parking and storage. Another variance is sought to permit the entryway to remain because it controls the flow of traffic and access to the premises, and another variance from the sign setback.

During the January meeting, Stemler testified that while the sign does encroach on PennDOT property, it has no problem with that issue and that it happens frequently.

At the end of the January hearing, Mousseau asked Stemler and his attorney to provide a letter on PennDOT stationary stating that there was no problem with the encroachment.

At the Thursday meeting, Walbert said that she had never agreed to provide a letter, while Mousseau said that PennDOT would have provided written correspondence and that none was ever produced.

Walbert said that her client never agreed to provide written proof.

At the November hearing, Rudy Wolfe of Keystone Consulting Engineers, Kresgeville, noted that the log structure archway is four feet on the road right-of-way, but that it does not interfere with sight distances.

Mousseau said in January, that he wanted the letter and that he would subpoena her client for the letter, also refused to close the hearing. Instead, the two attorneys had settled on another hearing date, which was held Thursday.

Stemler had testified in January that he is seeking permission to seat 180 people which is what his kitchen's serving capacity. He said that when the decks are in use, the interior of the building is not used as in nice weather people prefer to sit outside.

Stemler said that the concept of his restaurant is to provide a pleasing atmosphere for customers, such as the deck seating along the river with good food at modest prices, with volume sales. He noted that the decks can seat another 240 people.

The TIMES NEWS contacted PennDOT and Ron Young, PennDOT spokesman, provided a copy of a letter, which had been sent the Borough of Parryville, the letter noted that the archway structure is encroaching on State Route 2008 (Centre Street).

"The Department sent Mr. Stemler (owner of the Riverwalck Saloon) a letter notifying him Department records indicate he has not obtained a permit for the alterations to his driveway and therefore he is currently in violation of State Law.

He is obligated to comply with spokesman Code 36, Title 67, Chapter 441 and failure to comply may result in the following:

1. He may be joined as a defendant in any lawsuit for any accidents resulting from his driveway occupying Right-of-Way illegally, or any hazards created by it.

2. The Department can elect to pursue one of several legal remedies available under 36 P.S. Section 60-420 and 67 spokesman Code, Section 441.10."

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