Township Zoning Board Deadlocks on 'Nursery' Vote

A vote on a cease and desist order for what a township official has determined is a nursery business was split 2-2 at the township zoning hearing board's March 19 meeting.

Lower Saucon resident and business owner Michael Kiefer must wait a bit longer to find out what will be done in regards to his appeal of a cease and desist order from township zoning officer Chris Garges.

At their March 19 meeting, Lower Saucon Township Zoning Hearing Board members voted 2-2 (chairman Jason Banonis was absent) to uphold the order.

The solicitors involved in the case will submit their legal opinions at the ZHB's April 23 meeting and determine what the vote means.

solicitor Lincoln Treadwell told the board that Kiefer was given a cease and desist order by Garges because .

“The nursery use is permitted, provided Mr. Kiefer gets a permit,” Treadwell said.

Kiefer said he cannot afford to get a permit for the property because he would need to submit a site plan, which he said could be very costly. Kiefer said he believes a site plan would cost him somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Kiefer argued that Garges had been to the property years before he received the violation notice and said he was never warned that he was in violation.

Garges said he looked at aerial views of the property and noticed that it was “more of a commercial nursery operation” and moved forward with the notice of violation.

"Your definition of a nursery should be a garden center," Kiefer said.

"I would consider what I do, under the township definition, as a tree farmer," he added.

The township and Kiefer disagree on what Kiefer’s business is considered.

Treadwell said the township believes Kiefer runs a nursery.

If Kiefer’s business were considered a farm, he would not need a site plan or permit.

Kiefer said he believes he operates a farm and that the township is overlooking
his type of farm. He has never needed a permit for any of the other properties
he leases, he also said.

“To exclude my form of agriculture is absurd,” Kiefer told the board.

In other business, the zoning hearing board granted Alex Patullo's .

The board voted 4-0 to grant the variance, and stated that its vote was due to the fact that Patullo had demonstrated hardship.

Patullo, who owns the former Woodland Hills Country Club, plans to subdivide 13.4
acres surrounding the clubhouse from the 162-acre golf course property at 4166 Lower Saucon Road.

The case has been before the zoning hearing board previously, and went before the Commonwealth Court. However, the case was given back to the zoning board.


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