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"Stone House" project may need several variances

Richard Fulton

(4/16) A proposal to restore an early "stone house" located on Water Street in Fairfield Borough, and subdivide the land it is on, will likely necessitate a number of variances.

The Fairfield Borough Planning Commission continued its preliminary assessment of the 10 Water Street house and property in question, owned by Gerard and Kathleen Michaels, at their April 8 meeting.

The initial plans for the old house, which is at least 19th Century and possibly older, was presented to the borough Planning Commission at their February 12 meeting by architect Allen Beckett, representing the property owners.

A modular residence is also located on the same tract as the older building, which constitutes a nonconforming use under current zoning regulations. In addition to restoring the old structure, the owners would like to subdivide the land into two parcels, placing each of the two residences on separate plots.

Following the February 12 meeting, Adams County planner Robert Thaeler reviewed the proposed project in an effort to determine how many variances might be needed to proceed with the project, and noted the following at the April meeting:

  • Subdividing the lot would require a lot size variance for at least one of the two lots;
  • At least one lot would need a lot size variance;
  • The lots may need impervious coverage variances;
  • At least one lot may need a maximum front yard depth variance;
  • At least one lot may need a side yard depth variance;
  • At least one lot may need a rear yard depth variance; and
  • Proposed lot widths may require a variance.

Thaeler stated that it appeared the project would need "three to four (definite variances)" as presently proposed. Such variances would have to be approved before the borough Zoning Hearing Board.

"From a planning perspective," he said, granting the variances would be "a viable trade-off (to get the abandoned residence restored and to get the existing buildings on separate tracts)."

The old, unoccupied house found itself on the borough’s radar when it began to show signs of disrepair, according to Land & Sea Services, LLC., the firm that manages the borough’s code enforcement.

The planning commission took no formal action at the meeting regarding the proposed project.

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