Township okays inn's operation as neighbor continues objections
Solebury Township considers the matter closed, but a neighbor of Centre Bridge Inn wants to keep it open.
The inn is in the Village of Centre Bridge, on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge across from Stockton, N.J., at the intersection of Route 263 and River Road. It is a busy corner, with the inn and Dilly’s Corner, a poplular fast-food stand during the day from spring through fall and a dinner destination through the year, on the opposite corner.
The neighbor, Mark Worth, has complained that 2012 renovations to the inn were completed without input in a public forum from neighbors. One of his primary objections is that traffic has increased with the expansion – allowing more space for weddings and other large gatherings,
“There is no mention of any request for any zoning changes or variances to the Solebury zoning officer,” Worth wrote in a letter to the Herald last fall, which included exerpts from a letter his attorney, Donal B. Veix Jr., sent to the township. “One can only question how this application could be approved with no public hearing and comment.
“Issues that were never addressed included, the expansion of the facility, the expansion of occupancy, additional parking needs, off-site parking, trash storage, trash removal, noise and lighting issues, and health and safety issues such as the expansion of sewage/septic holding tank.”
Worth said residents of Centre Bridge requested to be on the township supervisors’ agenda in November but were limited to three minutes in the public comment section. He felt they deserved more time.
The township responded to Veix Dec. 3: “... Upon the township's investigation of the claims and allegations set forth in the information packet submitted, Solebury Township finds no ongoing violation involving the operation of the Centre Bridge Inn.
“Under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Section 617, your client has the right to institute action independently if he believes that his property will be substantially affected by any alleged violations at the site in question.”
The letter was signed by Gretchen Rice, assistant township and zoning officer. It spelled out responses to Worth’s charges: Trash is contained within a 6-foot-high fence and is picked up by a contractor at least once a week or more, if needed; lighting is contained within the site and does not spill over onto neighboring properties; noise complaints have been addressed and they were judged unfounded; additional barriers have been installed around an underground tank.
Also, the letter said, valet parking is provided. The inn, which used the Elliot Real Estate lot for overflow parking, has recently contracted with the Stockton Fire Company for its overflow parking
A restaurant and tavern are permitted uses in Solebury’s Village Commercial Districts and the capacity for large events meets township regulations, the township letter says, and recent inspections have shown that the inn has no violations.
But Worth is continuing his objections. In a letter to the Herald Jan. 13, he said, representing a group of local residents of the riverside community, “we have been trying to address for over a year in the best interest of the community’s health, safety and well-being.”
Copies of the letter were sent to Dennis Carney, township manager, the township supervisors and Jonathan Reiss, township solicitor.
Worth said the inn remains in non-compliance with the township’s regulations. He believes the inn should have been required to go through zoning hearings for its expansion, which is more than “an enclosure of existing outdoor dining area.”
“We maintain that the leniency with which the inn’s activities and changes to the character and use of the property are being handlan abuse of discretionary authority, which leaves us feeling vulnerable and at risk.”
Jerry Horan, owner of the Centre Bridge Inn, said Tuesday of Worth’s continued objections, “I don’t understand his positioning.”
Horan said objections have been addressed, including an upgrade to the sewage system to handle large parties after the Bucks County Department limited the number of guests. Horan said that issue has already been taken care of. “I have a business and I am allowed to run it,” he said.
“I wanted to inform you that my neighbor two doors away has submitted false claim about my property and business and has subjected me to major amounts of inspections from township to health,” Horan said in an e-mail message. “He tells me he will harass me till the day he dies. ... I'm a good person and run a good establishment and I do respect my neighbors’ privacy.”
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