Municipal Report: Property changes use, becomes headache in West Nantmeal

A change in use could complicate the future of a property being sold in West Nantmeal.

Lammey’s General Store provided groceries and hardware to the local community for many years. When Austin and Miriam Lammey decided to retire, the store changed hands but only continued as a general store for a short time. Local resident Regina Jennelle purchased the main house and two smaller buildings and converted them into apartments or rooms to provide housing for veterans.

Now Todd Everts from the Coatesville area wants to purchase the property and put it to a viable use. It is owned by the estate of Regina Jennelle.

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“The only viable use of the property is apartments, otherwise the future of the property could be a mess,” he said. “My experience is not unraveling a very confusing situation. My experience is working within a lawful scenario.”

Zoning Officer Frank Newhams agreed, “There is no other viable use for the structure. What can be done with it?”

Now, out of concern over more changes in the interior structure of the buildings with a new owner, West Nantmeal officials decided to take a close look at exactly what had been done there in the years since the era of the general store.

Everts asked West Nantmeal officials to reconsider a cease and desist order, and asked what he needed to move forward.

First a variance is needed and then conditional use, said Secretary Treasurer Susan Ward.

There were no regulations on boarding houses at the time it was sold to Jennelle, said Newhams.

The Veterans Administration required a fire escape from the third floor of the main house, said Newhams.

Ward said the change of use occurred sometime before the 1990s. Ronald Lammey had lived there with his parents.

“I am interested in buying the property,” Everts said. “I am trying to find the documents. I can’t find anything. Bill Witman had come here and done work for Regina Jennelle years ago. He has some records.

“We were looking for a variance and site plans so we could come in here,” he added.

Township Attorney Kristin Camp said the township does not have the papers to support what he was saying.

“We have to review the data to determine when the rooming units and apartments came into existence and determine what the zoning was at the time,” she said. “There is concern on how many persons or families can be housed on such a small parcel of land. We don’t think the county was aware of what was here. We are not trying to create obstacles, but we are trying to tell you what you need.”

“We were about ready to go to settlement before this came up,” said Everts. “I understand you would like permanent residents rather than transients.

“I am not the one who put in the apartments and rooms,” he continued. “I just assumed and put a lot of money into it. I am a straightforward guy. We got sold a bill of goods.”

“Buyer beware,” said Elston. “As long as the residents are safe, there is adequate parking and water and sewer, I see it as a good use for the property.”

Barkasi said water and sewer issues need to be dealt with.

“This board can work with you,” he said. “Go to the Health Department. Report to this board before doing anything.”

Newhams suggested the board of supervisors consider an amendment to the zoning ordinance which would shed more information on what can be done with a property when taking into mind zoning, acreage and buildings.

Newhams has been doing testing for the decibels of sound from target range shooting at the Fantanarosa property. Different types of firearms have been used at various distances from targets. Testing will continue at the Fantanarosa property.

A fundraising event was held at Wyebrook Farm on Oct. 19 to raise funds to repair the stone walls in the St. Mary of Providence area. Local residents under the direction of a local contractor did more restorative work on the walls on Oct. 20.

Emergency Management Coordinator Barclay Hargreaves said there should be better communications between townships regarding current affairs. The management at Elverson Supply, Lowes and Walmart is being contacted to help provide needed materials for repairs in case of an emergency. More communication is needed between Emergency Management, the police and the local governments he said.