Catty zoners remain undecided about fence on Bridge Street
A fence on a Bridge Street property was the topic of discussion at a July 12 hearing of the Catasauqua Borough Zoning Hearing Board.
At the hearing, Pennsylvania Venture Capital Inc., owners of two buildings on Bridge Street now occupied by the Malvern Institute, made a plea to keep a fence on the properties.
In the application to renovate the buildings, no fence was included in the plans. Once Malvern became the tenant, its officials had special concerns – its patients needed privacy.
In a separate interview with The Press, Jennifer Lively, who manages the local office, explained how the institute’s programs work.
“We are not a day clinic,” she said. “Patients coming here for our care are dedicated to recovering from substance abuse. They are paying for our services.”
According to Lively, most patients undergoing a treatment program stay in the former apartment building. There are occasions when they need to go over to the former bank building, now the institute’s administrative arm. There are also times when patients use the outdoor courtyard. In both instances, there is a need for privacy.
The board did not like the privacy solution implemented by the property owner. A wooden stockade fence stretches from one building to the next. At one point, it exceeds the 6-foot height limit because a set of stairs intersects the former bank building steps. The porch area on the residence hall is not enclosed.
Fences were often installed without a permit. Borough council made a recent change in the ordinance and now requires a permit to install a fence. Where several residents got caught in the permitting process was when they wanted to change an existing fence.
“We allowed fences without a permit before this recent change,” said Eugene Goldfeder, the borough’s zoning officer. “The new ordinance now requires a permit for a change if there was never a permit issued.” PA Venture Capital did not have the fence on its original application but added the fence after Malvern Institute became the tenant and after the new zoning ordinance went into effect.
The board deferred making a call on the fence and will place the matter on its next agenda.
From questions asked, board members recognized the need for privacy but did not have a better solution to the matter.
Since the appeal is still an open matter, Goldfeder asked that board members make no additional comments until they had a chance to review options.