June 1, 2011 —
The Honesdale Borough Council voted unanimously on May 24 to deny a conditional use permit to a renovated building on West Street that the owner had sought to turn into a bed and breakfast. Council member Barbara Lewis introduced the measure to deny the permit because the building does not meet borough code specifications for such an establishment.
The owner, Leonard Schwartz, wanted to turn the building into a bed and breakfast with six units, with at least one of them having a kitchenette. Schwartz said the building would be used to house medical professionals who work for brief periods of time at the Wayne Memorial Hospital (WMH) in Honesdale. But almost from the beginning, neighbors argued that there are not enough parking spaces to accommodate the people that already live in the neighborhood, let alone more vehicles connected to the B&B.
In a series of meetings and hearings, Schwartz and his wife Margery, who bought the building on West Street when it was in foreclosure and a state of disrepair, attempted to address the parking issue. At first, they attempted to work out a deal with WMH whereby residents of the B&B would be allowed to park instead of parking on West Street.
When that didn’t work out, Schwartz drew up an agreement between his property and the Wayne Hotel, which he also owns, which would allow guests of the B&B to park at the hotel. But the neighbors objected that it was unreasonable to expect that guests would walk so far to park. Further, the borough code requires that a B&B have 270 square feet available for parking, which the property did not have.
Aside from the parking issue, there were several conditions regarding B&Bs in the borough code that residents said the project violated. For instance, code requires that a B&B consists of a detached single-family house, within which up to six rooms are rented out to people who may stay up to six nights. In the Schwartz plan, there would be no family or person who would be at the home all the time.
The Honesdale Planning Commission had recommended to the council that a conditional use permit be granted with several conditions. But in the end, the council voted unanimously to deny the permit.
Schwartz had the right to appeal the decision, but he said in a phone interview that he is not likely to do that. He said, however, the council “used the strictest possible interpretation of the law to deny our application. I don’t consider Honesdale to be very pro-business.”