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Jim Thorpe Castle plans dealt setback

Published November 12. 2011 09:01AM

Jim Thorpe Borough Council has dealt a setback to a Cumberland County mother and son who want to build a small replica of a castle behind Mauch Chunk Opera House.

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Jim Thorpe Borough Council, the council made a decision on the revocation of the Sewage Enforcement Officer permit for the "Castle" property on Hill Road. The council voted to sustain the decision and revoke the permit.

A hearing was held Oct. 31st to discuss a permit that was issued, apparently in error, by SEO (Sewage Enforcement Officer) Bill Brior for an on-lot sewage system for the "Castle" property.

However, the permit was set to be revoked. Under the Act 537 Plan, an on-lot sewage system would be prohibited on Hill Road because there is a municipal sewage system in reasonably close proximity.

The owners of the property are Rosemarie Peiffer and her son, David Peiffer. Construction of a cottage with some resemblance to a 19th century home, which apparently had the qualities of a castle, is planned for the site.

Some original walls still exist from the castle. The Pfeiffers planned to utilize those walls in their new building construction.

During public comment at the council meeting, several residents spoke up in support of the project. The site is on a hill behind the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

Resident, Kurt Jackson, said that he felt the project was important and the property could become a heritage sight instead of being left to deteriorate.

Another resident questioned the fee the Peiffers had to pay for the hearing.

Borough Manager, Wesley Johnson, responded that the hearing fee included things such as posting of ads for the hearing and a having a court stenographer present.

Rosemarie Peiffer spoke during public comment and stated that she felt the members present at the hearing weren't fully informed.

At the council meeting she presented some members and officials of the borough with information and plans for the project.

"I hope the decision made tonight is a fair one. I hope it is made on an informed group of people," she stated.

Rosemarie also thanked the residents who spoke up in support.

Before the decision was made the council members went into executive session for discussion.

After executive session the council members voted. The motion was made to sustain the decision and the vote was passed.

Attorney James Nanovic, the borough's solicitor, commented, "My understanding is the process that was followed here was the incorrect process. I'm not saying what the alternate outcome will be, but I understand that if the applicant were to go back to Bill Brior and you approached it as a planning module process. That could be the right way to proceed where you could still have an on-lot system. I'm not promising anything."

"If your engineer contacts, or has you go and ask about the other way of proceeding, you may get a better outcome," he added.

Council Vice President, Justin Yaich, stated that the board wants to see this project go through. He added, though, that there is a proper procedure that needs to be followed.

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