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Palmerton woman expresses concern over home being torn down in borough

Published February 27. 2012 05:02PM

A Palmerton woman has expressed concerns with the number of homes being bought and torn down along the borough's downtown business district.

Resident Deborah Smith told borough council on Thursday that she was unhappy to see that happen at 508-510 Delaware Ave., the home where she used to live with her husband and children for 20 years.

"I've watched the home at 510 Delaware Avenue be torn down with great sadness and a sense of loss," Smith said. "Aside from the hurt I feel in watching this happen, my fear is that other houses along Delaware Avenue are being bought by Pencor Services and being torn down for parking, box stores."

Smith pleaded with council to put an end to the trend.

"I just feel that it's really tragic that these homes are being torn down," she said. "Maybe the borough should start thinking about putting some protection for our older homes."

Borough President Terry Costenbader offered a response to Smith's concern.

"There are safeguards," Costenbader said. "We talked to Pencor; they understand our concerns."

David Masenheimer, Pencor Services Inc. president, said after the meeting, "While we understand a former resident's nostalgia for a home that she sold years ago, the tear down is part of a plan to bring business to Palmerton in an area the town has zoned commercial. This location is a Commercial Downtown zone. In fact, new residential construction is not a permitted use in this zone. The last thing we want to do is to hurt the town. We want to bring jobs and growth to keep this town vibrant."

Afterward, the borough heard from Stephen Pany, of Pany & Lentz Engineering Co., who discussed the Pencor Services subdivision Smith made reference to.

Pany told council that Pencor was requesting a waiver from sections of the borough's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance requiring four-square-feet of off-street parking for every one-square-foot of commercial dedicated building area.

An 18-space parking lot has been proposed at the dwelling on Delaware Avenue as part of a parking lot extension to include two more parcels for the 10,000-square-foot mixed use building at 524 Delaware, Pany said.

Pany said Pencor reconfigured the parking so that an additional 18 spaces would be provided. The plan has received approval from the Carbon County Planning Commission and Carbon County Conservation District, he said.

Councilman Jeremy Barbosa expressed reservations with the granting of the waiver.

"I have a concern with the waiver," Barbosa said. "In 2009, we granted Pencor a waiver because they purchased the property for more parking."

Council Vice President Chris Olivia added "the house is gone already. There's nothing we can do about it."

On a 4-1 motion, with one abstention, council agreed to grant conditional preliminary approval to the plan. Councilman Kris Hoffner was opposed, with Barbosa abstaining from the vote. Councilman Richard Nothstein was absent.

Also on Thursday, the borough heard concerns from a pair of residents about what they referred to as several dangerous intersections in the borough.

Resident Lauren Kupillas requested that council put a crosswalk in at the intersection of Second and Delaware.

However, borough Manager Rodger Danielson cautioned that would have to be approved by the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Resident Jan Anewalt then told council he was in favor of pedestrian crossing signs at the intersection of First and Delaware.

"That's like walking on a gauntlet," Anewalt said. "That's a bad place."

Anewalt said motorists drive entirely too fast at the intersection.

"It will be too late when somebody gets killed there," he said. "Already some people have been killed there [in the past]."

Costenbader told Anewalt council will refer his concern to the borough's Public Safety Committee and get back to him.

In other business, council:

- Held the first in a series of two Community Development Block Grant hearings conducted by Judy Borger, Carbon County Director of Planning and Development. Borger estimated that the borough will receive $90,000 in CDBG funding through the 2012 program. Of that, $73,800 would be for project implementation, with the other $16,200 going toward administrative costs, Borger said.

- Tabled the sale of the vacant lot at 910 Edgemont Avenue until next month's meeting.

- Adopted a parking ordinance for a special purpose parking zone to grant a handicapped parking request at 264 1/2 Lehigh Avenue.

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