|L to R: ZHB members Paul Balla, Joan Rosenthal and Joseph Bednarik|
In zoning, an accessory use is one that is customarily incidental and accessory to the principal use, such as a shed at a residence.
Joseph Jurvinko is certainly familiar with That's Amore. He started working there as a bus boy at age 15, when it was known as Pane e Vino. He eventually became the chef at Bethlehem's popular Mama Nina. Early this year, he went into business for himself. But he soon learned that he has lots of competition from local area restaurants that offer outdoor seating. That includes nearby P.J. Whelihan's, Prime Steak House, Gregory's and even Wegmans.
Under questioning from his attorney, Mickey Thompson, Jurvinko testified that he spent $115,000 in improvements at the restaurant, including an adjoining lot at which he proposed seasonal outdoor seating for dinner. The area includes a decorative gazebo, bocce ball pit, fountain and landscaping. There would be no music, no alcohol sales, no big-screen TV, and only low-wattage lighting.
|Att'y DeVito cross-examines P.E. David Harte|
DeVito also argued that the outdoor seating is a "principal," as opposed to an "accessory" use. Under Hanover's zoning ordinance, an accessory use is permitted on an adjoining lot under common ownership. But Thompson told zoners that outdoor seating, which requires a restaurant, is necessarily an accessory use. He also hinted that the zoning ordinance, which makes no specific provision for outdoor dining, is a "tad exclusionary."
Where would these outdoor diners park? While the arguments concerning principal and accessory use dominated the hearing, the subplot was focused on a business expansion in an area that is already crowded.
Jurvinko showed zoners lease for 10 parking spots at a small strip mall on the south side of his restaurant. Testimony from both Jurvinko and engineer David Harte established that this lot is never full. A bike shop, dry cleaner, barber and pizza shop usually have customers that come and leave rather quickly.
ZHB Solicitor Ted Lewis questioned whether the owner of the strip mall had an obligation to seek a variance for a reduction in parking. Township Solicitor DeVito argued that he did, while Attorney Thompson noted that parking at a strip mall is far safer than anywhere else in that proximity. Engineer David Harte explained that Jurvinko could add about 6 parking spaces on the adjoining lot, but doing so would cause him to lose six spaces on the main lot.
Although some members of the public came and asked questions, none stuck around for the final decision.
Following the adverse ruling, a grim Joseph Jurvinko vowed to appeal. Township Solicitor DeVito declined comment.