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Palmerton couple permitted to construct property addition

Published December 14. 2012 05:03PM

A Palmerton couple may construct an addition onto their property.

After over a 30-minute recess, the borough's zoning hearing board, on a 2-1 vote Thursday, approved Fred and Maria Nothstein's appeal to the board.

Also as part of their ruling, the zoners, by the exact same 2-1 margin, ruled to grant the Nothsteins a dimensional variance to construct an addition that will extend five feet from the side property line at 767 Columbia Avenue.

In both instances, zoner Michael Bloomfield and board President Garry Curran were in favor. Zoner Andrew Jordan was opposed.

Attorney Tom Nanovic, who represented the Nothsteins, told the zoners "I don't think the variance will have any affect on the neighborhood."

"They looked at other alternatives, and none of them made any sense; this made sense," Nanovic said. "This is not going to affect the community in any way."

However, attorney Joshua Shulman, who represented the protestant, argued that granting the variance would set a precedent.

"Clearly, they do not meet the standards set forth by law," Shulman said. "There is no hardship here that is recommended by the law."

The board reconvened on the matter, which originally came before it last month, at which time it was unanimously decided at that time that the hearing be continued.

As part of that decision, the zoners requested the attorneys for both the applicant, as well as the opposition, submit briefs to the board for consideration.

The couple wants to build an addition that will extend five feet from the side property line, and sought a side yard variance. However, Section 307.A of the borough's zoning ordinance requires a 10-foot side yard.

In September, zoners granted the couple a side variance to erect an addition to their property, that would extend 9-feet, 6-inches, from the side property line at the single family dwelling, which is located in an R-1 (Residential-Low Density) Zoning District.

But, in his rejection letter, borough zoning officer Duane Dellecker stated that based on an on-site inspection conducted on Oct. 18, "this office has determined that the addition under construction is encroaching further on the side yard setback that what was approved by the zoners."

Upon discussions with the contractors, property owners and review of the permit files, Dellecker stated that zoning permit number 4922 was rejected by this office on July 24. The rejection letter stated "You propose to erect an addition that is 29'-by-11'6" to the existing single family dwelling" and "The plan, as submitted, indicates a 9-foot, 6-inch setback from the side property line for this addition."

In addition, Dellecker noted that a zoning hearing application was filed seeking relief from the side yard setback requirements of Section 307.A of the borough zoning ordinance; a zoning hearing was held on Sept. 11, at which time testimony was received and a variance was granted for "a six inch intrusion into the side yard"; on Sept. 18, the office received a copy of the zoning board approval and issued permit #4922 for the addition; and on Oct. 18, the office responded to a complaint received indicating the excavation activity was closer to the side property line than approved on the issued permit.

"As a result, a verbal and this written stop work order are hereby issued, and permit #4922 is hereby revoked. Work conducted to this point is limited to excavation activity. No work on any portion of the structure has been started. Any further activity at 767 Columbia Avenue is done at the applicants own risk."

Dellecker further stated "it is apparent, based on a telephone conversation with the application on July 24, this office completed missing information on the zoning permit application. This was the basis for the permit denial."

In addition, Dellecker stated "it is also apparent that neither the applicant, nor builder, realized the denial letter and action of the zoning hearing board did not accurately reflect what they intended to accomplish with this addition."

Finally, Dellecker said "regardless, the documentation only reflects approval of a six-inch intrusion into the required 10-foot side yard."

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