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Company owners detail zoning dispute with township

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    The concrete foundation that once supported Beltzville Beverage on Interchange Road. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

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    Crystal Fink stands on her commercial property on Interchange Road. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published July 22. 2019 01:04PM

 

Crystal Fink started her business All American Concrete Form in 2007.

For Fink, now 39, owning a concrete company was a dream come true; she calls herself and her husband, Michael Fink, “concrete people.”

In 2015, Fink purchased a 2-acre commercial parcel of land off Interchange Road, just a few minutes down from her residence on Stable Road. Hoping to build storage space to house equipment for her growing enterprise, she planned to erect a 4,800-square-foot pole barn on the concrete foundation that once supported Beltzville Beverage.

“We were extremely excited about this,” Fink said in an interview with Times News. She wanted that property to showcase All American to anyone who might drive by.

But that’s a dream that has yet to be realized.

“When I drive by that property today, I’m disgusted. I’m disappointed,” Fink said.

Her discontentment stems from a yearslong struggle to build that barn between herself and Towamensing Township.

Fink says the township zoning officer, Carl Faust, has complicated the process.

Faust declined to offer comment for this article.

Fink says that the township’s zoning hearing board — and Faust in particular — is incorrectly interpreting the code, trying to force her into a zoning classification that would severely limit what she’s allowed to build on the property.

She tried to construct the barn the same year she purchased the lot, Fink recalled, but Faust told her she needed to submit a land development plan first. Her first engineer, who was from Keystone Engineering, told her the project was straightforward enough.

But after the engineer met with Faust, Fink said, the initially estimated $7,000 project doubled in cost. The plans now included underground management systems and pressurized water tanks. Fink ended up taking on a new engineering firm, Allentown-based Gilmore and Associates, which had to reconfirm all of the work already completed by Keystone and paid for by Fink.

Three years later, her plans to build that barn have yet to be approved by the township.

Fink says she’s taken breaks from pursuing the project, partly because she feels like the township is fighting her.

“It consumes you mentally and drains you,” she said.

She noted that there’s also been a financial strain. Between the money paid to lawyers and engineers, and the costs of having her past plans reviewed (and ultimately denied) by the township, Fink said she has already spent upward of $40,000.

“They have seriously hurt us and our business,” Fink said.

In the summer of 2017, supervisors decided to pursue legal action against the Finks, who had taken on a few home improvement projects without township permission. Namely, they ripped out the old sidewalks surrounding their home, pouring new concrete, and built up a white privacy fence along Stable Road.

Fink admitted that she took on the project knowing she hadn’t acquired township permission, but added that it was only because Faust told her she would never gain approval for the renovations.

“How can you stop someone from improving their home?” Fink said.

The Times News published an article about the litigation in June 2017. Fink said after that piece circulated, she received a call from the bank. She was told that she had lost credibility, and her line of credit had been severed, pending the receipt of a letter from the township warranting her home in compliance with its regulation.

“I was in the middle of a ($1 million) dollar job, and to have that shut down — I can’t even tell you how that made me feel,” Fink said.

“They could have seriously put us out of business.”

Fink aired her frustrations to the Towamensing board of supervisors at their June meeting.

When she asked the board for advice on getting her land development plan approved, Solicitor Thomas Nanovic noted that Fink agreed in February to continuations for her plans in both the township’s zoning hearing board and planning commission.

Fink maintained that she did that only because there was a deadlock between the two entities.

“You’re going through the process,” Nanovic told her.

 

Comments
Faust is nothing but a little dictator. He has caused unneeded headaches for many a people trying to improve their home or business. He should be relieved of his duties and they should get a fair inspector that actually help the people through their project, and not to be a hindrance.
Carl Faust is the biggest drain on this area. He is the reason a lot of businesses avoid the area so they don't have to deal with his nonsense.
Kudos to the township for upholding the ordinance and denying permits for inappropriate and environmentally irresponsible development and homeowner "improvements".
The Finks did a great job on their house and the improvements they did to it. There’s no doubt their property on 209 would look just as nice when they were finished. By the way the business property they bought was formerly a Beer Distributer that burned. They cleaned it up.

Why is there no-one at any of these townships that can take a property owner in a particularly unique situation and help/guide/walk them through the system so they can avoid the pitfalls? Can’t any of them take some responsibility? It’s always “ oh-ya zoning, uh-ya the supervisors, well we forgot about SALDO, you should ask the building inspector.”

Why? Because most of the seats on the township boards are held by greedy, manipulative, jealous, washed up business owners that couldn’t make it happen, and now they’re bitter. These folks are the ones that make up “the process”.

I didn’t say all. I said MOST. That’s all you need to make life miserable.

I don’t think anywhere Crystal said they didn’t want to do comply. Obviously, She is frustrated BEYOND BELIEF how many times have you felt the need to go to your local newspaper to try and have your voice be heard.

I’d believe Crystal is pretty tough and for her to come to this I believe says a lot about what she’s been through. I’ve had some of the hardest working men I know tell me 10 years ago she was one of the hardest working women they’ve ever seen. I’ve never met her but based on their opinion alone she has my Respect.

I’d bet the money they wasted on “the process” would have easily paid for any “appropriate” and “responsible” development measures had the Finks been provided proper guidance from the beginning.
MR A your right on. Carl Faust failed at his own home inspection business now picks on everyone else & causes unnecessary grief. He’s been kicked out of most townships but for some reason this township keeps him around after many people have raised concerns. He tried to bully me & I got ugly with him I almost took a hold of him. He is a complete idiot. Although I don’t know Crystal if she stood next to me I know where they live & the property mentioned. She significantly improved both properties especially where she lives. What’s the problem with installing new side walks & a nice fence? You can own 1000 acres & build a house in the middle of it & some idiot or official will try to tell u what to do. It’s just not right. And as far as Nanavic they are also crocked. His brother Jim tried screwing a friend of mine so I wouldn’t go by what he says because they are bias & don’t always follow the law themselves.
With Faust I don’t think it’s so much the message as it is the delivery. Remember he has to protect you from yourself. That railing that’s a 1/4” low might not be a big deal to you. But if he lets it go and somebody flips over it and breaks their leg then it will be a BIG deal for their lawyer. And you, Faust, and the Township won’t have a leg to stand on.

Remember when you screw that strip of 1/2” plywood to the top railing to get your certificate of occupancy then remove it later now only YOU have no legs to stand on if something happens. Oh and probably your homeowners insurance and the bank is going to leave you hanging.

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