Suit against business dropped
After nearly two years, a suit against the owners of a Lower Towamensing Township business has been dropped.
On a 2-0 vote Tuesday, the township's board of supervisors agreed to withdraw the suit that was filed against Ronald Gilbert and Carol Withers, the owners of the Covered Bridge Inn, Kunkletown. Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert was absent.
Township solicitor Jim Nanovic said that in the past, Gilbert and Withers "had not followed the state's uniform construction code."
But, Nanovic said the owners have their building inspections done, and added that township building code officer Duane Dellecker has authorized him to withdraw the suit.
Dellecker has issued an occupancy permit, and the couple have complied with the statute, Nanovic said.
In Dec. of 2010, Dellecker filed an action in Carbon County Court against the couple, contending the defendants had not met building code requirements relating to the restaurant, located at 4300 Little Gap Road.
As part of the suit, Dellecker, the plaintiff, in an action filed by Nanovic, asked the court to impose a fine of up to $1,000 for each day the alleged violations continued.
The suit claimed Gilbert and Withers, husband and wife, on March 11, 2004, applied for a permit to erect a 20-foot-by-65-foot addition to the eastern side of the restaurant for the purposes of enlarging the kitchen and dining area. The complaint said the zoning officer approved the application on April 4, 2004, with an effective date of April 9, 2004, for the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, although the defendant did not commence construction until July, 2007.
After the zoning officer issued a stop order on Aug. 2, 2007, because the permit had expired, the defendants appealed the decision to the township's zoning hearing board, which on Dec. 19, 2007, approved the appeal and granted Gilbert and Withers an extension of time.
The complaint said the zoning officer also learned in the interim that the new addition to the restaurant was being placed in a location different than what was shown on the original application.
Dellecker said in the complaint the zoning officer reissued the permit for the addition to the west side of the building on Dec. 20, 2007, pursuant to the zoning hearing board's ruling. On June 8, 2009, Dellecker issued a stop order based on the township's ordinance that says a permit shall expire two years from the date of approval of the application.
The suit claims the reissued permit expired on Dec. 20, 2009. It says on Feb. 16, 2010, Dellecker sent a violation notice/stop work order to the defendants, who did not appeal the notice.
The notice/stop work order says the defendants failed to secure the necessary building permits to allow an addition to be erected in violation of the Construction Code, adopted by the township on April 13, 2004.
Despite having received the notice, the suit contended the defendants continued work on the structure, including walls that were constructed, floor joists that were installed and electrical and plumbing work that was performed.
The defendants, the suit said, had stated they were grandfathered from the Construction Code, although the plaintiff contended the defendants must still have applied for and followed the requirements of the Fire and Panic Act.
The plaintiff argued the defendants were in violation of the latter act, as well as the township's ordinance. In addition to seeking the fine of up to $1,000 per day, the plaintiff asked the court to issue an injunction restraining the defendants from any further construction at the site without first obtaining the Construction Code permit.