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Decision delayed on concrete business

Published April 25. 2012 05:01PM

A Lower Towamensing Township man must await word to see if he can operate a concrete contractor business from his home.

The township's Zoning Hearing Board on Tuesday chose not to take action on a request by Jason Phillips, who sought a variance/special exception to conduct a business at 1645 Little Gap Road as a home occupation in an Industrial zoning district.

Instead, Phillips must again appear before the zoners at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at which point they said a decision is likely to be rendered.

The variance/special exception permits the storage of business equipment and products outside of the building; the display of products to be visible from adjoining properties or street; noise and dust which will be perceptible at or beyond the lot boundaries; and to conduct a home occupation out of an accessory structure.

About a dozen residents attended the zoning hearing, which was delayed due to the initial absence of two of the three members of the board.

Once the full board was on hand, testimony was taken.

Kay Phillips, the wife of Jason Phillips, told zoners there is "a lot of excavating going on at our house."

"My husband is taking over a business that is failing, and we need to move the business to our home to make it go," Kate Phillips said. "We need to be able to store materials on the property."

Jason Phillips said he wants to build a 30-by-30-foot garage so that he can park three trucks, and house eight and nine-foot aluminum concrete wall forms. The maximum amount of materials Phillips said he would store in the garage at one time is 2,500 panels, as well as a bundle of 150 pieces of rebar. The couple would also like to place a 2-by-2-foot sign at the end of their driveway, it was stated.

Phillips said he wants all his items to be stored in one area, and added that there is one other person who assists him with his work. That person either arrives in the morning at Phillips' house, or Phillips picks him up on the way to a job, Phillips said.

Zoning board Chairman James Ord said he wasn't sure what stance to take on the matter.

"What I'm struggling with is I'm not at all sure how this qualifies as home occupation," Ord said. "But, he's not performing the home occupation on the property."

Ord further explained his rationale.

"To me, when we've been dealing with home occupations in the past, people were doing the work at their homes," he said. "I don't see it as a home occupation."

Several residents who live by Phillips said the area flooded last year.

Phillips was then asked if his property was located in a floodplain, to which he said it wasn't.

Resident Jeff Mizgerd, who has properties next to and aside of Phillips, said he was concerned with the amount of noise, dirt and dust the business could generate.

"I'm for everybody making money," Mizgerd said. "But, for all these variances he's asking for, how far can this go if he's granted this?"

Zoner Keith George said the board appreciates such input from the audience.

Resident Kurt Kutzer, who also lives next to Phillips, said he had no problem with the request.

"I don't see any dirt; my cars aren't dirty, dusty," Kutzer said. "Most days, it's just quiet; in the morning, you just hear the neighbors going to work."

But, Mizgerd reiterated that he was still concerned about "the variances and what could happen."

At that, Kutzer again voiced his support of the request.

"How far can this go?" Kutzer asked. "It can't get much bigger."

The request was previously denied by township zoning officer Duane Dellecker.

In his rejection letter, dated Feb. 14, Dellecker stated a section of the township's zoning ordinance prohibits the storage of materials or products related to the home occupation from being stored outside of buildings.

Further, Dellecker stated in his letter that the letter of intent by Phillips indicates that vehicles, trailers, concrete forms, lumber and rebar will be stored on the property. However, a section of the township's zoning ordinance prohibits the display of products related to the home occupation from being visible from adjoining properties or streets.

Also, Dellecker stated that certain provisions are proposed by Phillips in order to prevent visibility from adjoining properties and streets. Pictures and diagrams should be presented to the zoning hearing board in order to determine compliance with this section.

Dellecker also stated that another section of the township's zoning ordinance prohibits noise and dust, among other things, from being perceptible at or beyond the lot boundaries.

In addition, Dellecker stated that another section of the township's zoning ordinance required home occupations be incidental or secondary to the use of the property as a residence, and limits them to those occupations customarily conducted within a dwelling unit.

Lastly, Dellecker stated that another section of the township's zoning ordinance requires a home occupation to be conducted within a dwelling unit, provided that by special exception of the zoning hearing board, may permit the home occupation subject to such controls they deem necessary.

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