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Township contends property owner needs excavation permits

Lower Towamensing Township has put the brakes on excavation work being done at the intersection of Hahns Dairy Road and Forest Inn Road.

According to the township, Little Gap Landscaping is the company digging at the site, but it never filed any plans with the township.

Duane Dellecker, the zoning officer/building code official, said the company was supposed to file a land development plan before beginning any work, but it didn’t.

The company, who eventually plans an office and product display on that corner, said it has the needed Pennsylvania Department of Transportation permits.

Because no plan has been submitted, Dellecker said he sent the company a violation notice and told them that work had to stop. Since then, work has stopped, but the equipment still sits there.

Dellecker said that after a violation notice is sent, the applicant has 15 days to contact the township’s office to discuss the problem. If that goes unanswered, then a violation/enforcement notice is sent by certified mail. The applicant then has 30 days to respond. If it still goes unanswered, then the township has a right to file a civil complaint against them with the magistrate.

“Fines can be up to $500 per day and each day is considered a separate offense,” Dellecker said.

RoniSue Ahner, the township secretary, said she hasn’t received any paperwork from the landscaping company either.

Ahner said the new homeowners of the house on the hill next to the excavation came into the office with questions about it, but she didn’t have any information to give them.

Since the violation notice was sent to the landscaping company, Dellecker said he did find out an erosion and sedimentation plan was filed with the Carbon County Conservation District, but nothing has been filed with him or the township.

The landscaping company did respond to the newspaper through its Realtor Cass Chies of Diamond First Real Estate in Palmerton.

Chies said the company bought the two lots in question in 2021 with the purpose of cleaning up the land and keeping the excavating equipment there. Eventually, the owner, Eric Costenbader, thought he might like to build an office there and have displays of the types of landscaping he can build. She said they discussed Costenbader’s ideas with Dellecker at that time.

As part of the land purchase, Costenbader applied for and received a highway occupancy permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Chies said. And he is currently working with Lehigh Engineering to develop a plan to combine the two parcels into one, which she said is called a reverse subdivision.

Chies said that Costenbader planned to file paperwork with the township once he had the plans to build the office, but he didn’t think he needed to file anything for clearing the land.

In an effort to get some information to the township, Chies said she sent the highway occupancy permit to Dellecker on Wednesday.

Chies said she thinks Costenbader’s plans are going to really improve that property and be a good staging of his landscaping abilities for potential customers.

The excavation of the lot at the corner of Forest Inn Road and Hahns Dairy Road in Lower Towamensing Township. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
The excavation of the lot at the corner of Forest Inn Road and Hahns Dairy Road in Lower Towamensing Township. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
Equipment is set up on the property on the corner of Forest Inn and Hahns Dairy Roads. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS