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Developer renews short-term rental plea

A Jim Thorpe developer remains steadfast in his quest to have short-term rentals on his Sierra Vista property in Mahoning Township.

Board Chairman Robert Slaw on Wednesday asked Jake Arner, president of Awesome View Properties Inc., if there was anything new on his project.

Arner said they continue to work on it, and asked the board if there’d be any consideration for an overlay district, but Slaw said the township just did its zoning.

Sierra Vista Estates has 104 units on 200 acres of property on Flagstaff Road next to the Flagstaff ballroom and has been approved as a residential development in the township.

Arner told the board that the property is probably the premiere vacation resort in Eastern Pennsylvania, and that he’s had someone from Brussels, say the campsite is the best campsite they ever stayed at.

“It would be a huge plus for our area for accommodations if short-term rentals would be (allowed) on the property,” Arner said. “I’m willing to discuss it; I respect your ordinance, and I thank you for what was done.”

Arner added that there aren’t enough accommodations in Carbon County, and if tourists would stay, they would spend more money at businesses in places like Jim Thorpe, Mahoning Township, and Lehighton.

“If there was a great use for that property, it would be related to tourism,” he said. “I think our area is wonderful for short-term rentals.”

But, Slaw said the township has had four developments go bust over the years, and that lots being sold in the township have not been going really well.

Slaw then asked Arner if he would consider abandoning his subdivision and doing something different.

Arner told the board he is willing to work with the township to make things better.

Last month, Arner informed supervisors that his time for appeals has expired for his zoning request.

At that time, Arner said he didn’t understand what the township’s objections were, and added his intention is to alleviate traffic congestion and parking issues.

Arner asked the board for some feedback, but didn’t get any.

However, Arner wasn’t done seeking input, and said his intent is to go forward with plans for short-term rentals.

He asked the board to change the zone for his property.

Supervisor Ronald Reeser said he wasn’t prepared to make that determination, and that he would need more information to even consider it.

The zoning hearing board denied the request for commercial parking and the short-term rentals.

After the Feb. 29 meeting, Arner said, “I’m disappointed that we couldn’t solve the traffic and parking problems that exist in Jim Thorpe and impacts the residents of Carbon County.”

Zoning hearing board member Sandy Palinchak said after the Feb. 29 meeting that the board denied the requests because, “It’s an R-3 district, which does not allow commercial parking or short-term rentals.”

He said at that time he has 25 parties that have expressed interest in buying lots, and love the idea of short-term rentals.

Arner had testified that the proposed commercial parking along five lots that border the Flagstaff property would create about 500 parking spots. If a proposed gondola were to be approved, there would be additional parking.

Arner said he hoped the gondola would move forward, as that’s been his goal for over 30 years. Arner has also planned a residential development in Jim Thorpe.

Canyon Rim Estates, Arner’s residential development in Jim Thorpe, has 270 units and was approved for short-term rentals, a winery, a tram and a camping facility.

Jake Arner presents his plans to Mahoning's Zoning Board in January. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO