Zoners confirm Silver Manor agreement
On July 12, Fred Silver and his attorney, Joseph Piperato, attended a hearing of the Catasauqua Zoning Hearing Board with an agreement in hand. The agreement ended a long-standing disagreement over the status of Silver Manor, located on the corner of Race and Front streets.
Borough Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker had hashed out the agreement over a series of meetings, and the borough council had agreed to the terms. Because the original complaint was initiated with the zoning board, the matter had to come before the board to legally close the record.
When Silver purchased the building, he received approval from the state to operate the building as a personal care facility. The borough granted a special exception to allow the personal care facility.
However, the state ultimately removed the designation, leaving the building’s status in limbo, as the building could not be economically modified to meet new state standards for long-term care facilities. Piperato cited an example for the board.
“The elevator stops between floors. A tenant needs to walk up or down stairs to use the elevator. And that is unacceptable,” he said.
A series of electrical fires triggered a full replacement of the wiring system. The wiring system is now updated to recent codes, according to a report presented to the council by borough Fire Chief Richard Hertzog.
One option considered by council is to grant a variance and allow the 22 rooms to be used as a boarding house, but the council was reluctant to make the move. There are two boarding houses in the zoning district and no others are permitted under the latest zoning ordinance changes.
Another option for the council would be to allow the building to go vacant and deteriorate. Council avoided this course because the building is part of the gateway to the borough. The matter was turned over to Dinkelacker to come up with a viable alternative.
Under the approved agreement, the property is classified as an extended-stay hotel. Tenants in the hotel are required to have six-month leases.
In-room cooking is moderated. The fire chief had asked for a complete ban on cooking, as an overheated electric stove top had caused a localized fire last year. However, according to the agreement, microwave ovens are permitted. There is no option for a communal room that could be used for casual cooking.
The agreement requires Silver Manor management to allow an inspection by the borough on a regular basis. The inspection will ensure all provisions of the agreement are enforced.
In return, the borough will use its influence to secure grants to improve the property. The owner did take action to upgrade the painted exterior of the building.
The zoning board acknowledged the agreement and allowed it to proceed.