The Bushkill Township Zoning Hearing Board met Monday, June 10 for an appeal by Linfield Manor’s request for special exception approval to permit an event center and overnight accommodations at 180 Nazareth Dr.

The May 17 application was denied due to provisions set forth by the Bushkill Township zoning ordinance not being met. The previous special exception use application requested that the event center and overnight accommodations be for no more than 14 consecutive nights, allow for a private use heliport set back 400 feet from the property line, a bed and breakfast and 15 cabin-style units for no more than four guests each. However, Linfield Manor withdrew the request for a heliport prior to the hearing.

Attorney Victor E. Scomillio, representing Dave Lin and Jeffrey Caulfield from Linfield Manor, expressed that the small event center be marketed for private, invite-only weddings, family reunions and corporate retreats, rather than be open to the public for ticketed events.

When examining Lin, it was noted that the owners bought the property in April for its rustic, exclusive nature and intend to preserve the look of the property for guests to enjoy.

Caulfield testified that the 15 cabins will each have a kitchenette with water, plumbing and two parking spaces, and that the current 16,500-square-foot timber structure will remain as is. Caulfield also clarified that the bed and breakfast would only be for guests of the event during their stay and that there would be 122 event guest parking spaces with an additional seven parking spaces for event staff, totaling 159 parking spaces in conjunction with the 30 cabin parking spaces.

Engineer David Bray from JENA Engineering testified that the property is approximately 41.5 acres, with 29.5 acres zoned rural residential in Bushkill Township and 12 acres zoned rural agricultural in Moore Township.

Bray noted that there would be sufficient parking for all guests and staff, the cabins would be set back 70 feet from the property line with the desire to preserve as many trees as possible and plant more deciduous trees if needed to maintain privacy and reduce visibility to other residencies, the cabins will have a central septic system separate from the main structure, the venue will have no negative impact on the community, events will conform to the township’s noise ordinances and that the property have one ingress and egress access point. No development on the open land that borders Route 946 is planned other than the driveway and the applicants intend to continue allowing that portion of land to be farmed, but ultimately, PennDOT will determine the ingress and egress placement.

Upon questions from the audience, Scomillio expressed that the applicants reduced the maximum occupancy stay to two days prior to an event and two days following an event with no more than one event occurring at a time.

Several residents voiced concerns regarding the increased traffic that events will bring, the desire to maintain the area’s rural nature, fear that the venue will cause more accidents on surrounding roads due to speeding and drinking while driving and beliefs that the venue will devalue their property, that guests will not be responsible and follow the rules during their stay and that local law enforcement does not have the manpower to handle problems associated with big events.

Several residents also raised concerns regarding the property’s visibility to neighboring residences including lights shining into homes, noise control (especially for outdoor events), curfews and the belief that the venue would disturb residents’ right to peace and quiet, thus negatively impacting their quality of life.

In contrast, several residents expressed favor for the project due to the applicant’s desire to maintain the property’s rural nature and for the property use not aligning with the growing trend in warehouse proposals and developments in the area. 

Solicitor Gary N. Asteak assuaged the audience, stating that the applicant had already addressed many of the township’s concerns such as having no outdoor concerts, providing screening around the proposed cabins, shortening the window of occupancy to limit short- and long-term stays or rentals and that the occupancy would be limited to the number of parking spaces on the property, with no parking being permitted on grass areas.

At the end of the hearing, the board unanimously approved a motion to accept the applicant’s request for variances with the following conditions: The use, specifically the use of the private event center, is consistent with the testimony of the applicant for use of private events only, that the applicant comply with any and all noise ordinances in the township, no outdoor concerts be permitted, no parking permitted on any grass areas, screening be required around each of the cabins to provide a visual buffer between the cabins and neighboring properties, that the use of the cabins be limited to guests or attendees of the private events only, that the use of the cabins be available no more than two days prior and two days after an event, the applicant is not permitted to operate or use fireworks, that the applicant comply with any of the conditions and address any of the concerns set forth by the environmental advisory council of the letter dated April 18, that the applicant comply with any and all labor industry standards and regulations, that the applicant not be permitted to use the property for Airbnb rentals or long-term rentals, any and all parking should be at least 90 feet from property lines and that the applicant meet the ingress and egress requirements that PennDOT decides upon.

The board will render an official written decision by mail within 45 days to the applicant. Once received, Linfield Manor can take the appropriate next steps in their subdivision and land development process.


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