With the hope of expanding their Bethlehem Township towing business, Randy and Heidi Rotondo purchased property on Newburg Road in Lower Nazareth Township in 2010.
But now, according to the Rotondos -- owners of Fast Lane Towing and Transport -- the expansion could prove to be too costly if a site plan cannot be waived and a stormwater basin must be constructed. An engineer they hired estimated the cost at between $130,000 and $150,000.
The Rotondos and their attorney, Stanley Margle, disputed the need for a site plan Tuesday night at the Lower Nazareth Zoning Hearing Board meeting.
According to Margle, the 3-acre property already consists of a 7,000-square- foot building and an office building that is about 1,000 square feet. Margle added that the Rotondos do not intend to add buildings to the site or pave the existing parking lot.
Margle argued that because no changes to the property are planned, there should be no need to submit a site plan.
However, township solicitor April Cordts reminded Margle that the attorney's clients had testified before the board in 2010 that they knew a site plan could be requested and that stormwater management could become an issue if they chose to pave the parking lot, something the Rotondos had initially intended to do.
Cordts added that records show Randy Rotondo answered "yes" when asked if he understood this.
The Rotondos' concern came to light, Margle countered, after Lori Seese, the township's planning and zoning administrator, told the couple they would need a site plan and possibly a stormwater basin if the parking lot was paved.
The owners hired an engineer to review the property and quickly discovered that the site plan, the paving and the basin could cost them between $130,000 and $150,000, Margle said.
“This is cost prohibitive,” he added.
After learning the price tag, according to Margle, the Rotondos dropped all plans to pave the parking lot and filed a request to waive the site plan, only to have Seese deny the request.
Margle said he was not at Tuesday’s meeting to again request the site-plan waiver, but was seeking ordinance information.
“I don’t know that there is anything for us to do,” Cordts said. “You have to make a formal request for a variance on the site plan.”
Michael Gable, a board alternate, told Margle and his clients that the issue might be moot with the board, adding that the state Department of Transportation released new requirements for site plans and water drainage that could impact a state route.
Margle concluded the meeting by saying he would contact PennDOT, and would then discuss the issue with his clients.
The next zoners meeting is scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday, July 26. Meetings are held at the Lower Nazareth Township Municipal Building, 306 Butztown Road.