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Rush denies permit for wine-making

Published January 29. 2014 05:00PM

Rush Township's Zoning Hearing Board has denied a local company's plan to ferment, bottle and sell wine. All three board members, Cathey Schimpf, Thomas Kline and Wayne Postupak, voted against the request.

Seitz Brothers, a pest control business, has two locations in Rush Township, along Route 309 between Hometown and Tamaqua, and on Hunter Street in Hometown. Seitz wanted to add the wine aging and bottling operation to the Hunter Street location, but the board denied the request for a variance for two reasons.

First, the township's zoning ordinance does not allow for more than one principal use on a lot. Seitz had intended continued use of the property for Seitz Bros. Exterminating, while adding the retail wine business, Blue Lizard Vineyard & Winery LLC.

Secondly, the board found that the application did not meet the requirement of having a minimum of one acre for each use, as required by ordinance in an R-4 district.The parcel size for the existing business is just over a half acre.

The Zoning Hearing Board had granted Seitz a variance for change of use for the property in March. The prior use of the property, before it was purchased by Seitz, was for plumbing supply and service.

In a second matter, the board granted a variance to the Hometown Volunteer Fire Company, 45 Mahanoy Ave., to use a portable electronic sign. Certain types of portatble illuminated signs are prohibited by township ordinance, such as signs with red, green or amber lights, or signs with flashing or intermittent illumination.

The fire company had begun to use a portable, illuminated sign until asked to cease by the township's code enforcement officer, Bill McMullen. The fire company then applied for a variance to be able to use the sign.

During the reorganizational meeting, the township's Board of Supervisors had voted to to waive the $500 fee for the variance request. The board granted the request with conditions: That the sign be moved to the fire company's lower lot; that the size of the sign not exceed 50 square feet; that the sign be illuminated with light of reasonable intensity and color; that the sign will also be used to advertise community functions; and that the sign not be used for commercial advertising, unless it is used to thank firms which donate to the fire company or township.

Adjacent property owners attended the meeting but did not testify. Hometown Fire Company Chief Barry Messerschmidt testified. Schimpf and Postupak voted in favor of granting the variance, while Kline recused himself from the vote.

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