Wilkes-Barre council hears about potential zoning issue involving church

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Barrett -

WILKES-BARRE — Council held a quick work session Tuesday, with much of the 13-minute meeting focused on zoning and tax-exemption issues.

Councilman Bill Barrett said he’s heard from residents in his district in Parsons about a small church that bought a house.

“When that happens the house, of course belonging to the church, becomes a not-for-profit part of the church parish,” Barrett said.

He told the other council members he was still gathering information and did not identify the church.

But based on what he’s heard, Barrett said the church intends to turn the house into a halfway house or treatment center and operate it as a for-profit business.

He questioned if the church received zoning approval for its planned use of the house and if the tax-exempt status applied.

“If they’re opening something that under our zoning ordinance would be considered a boarding house, they would absolutely need zoning approval,” replied city Attorney Tim Henry.

Barrett said he’s been in contact with the Pennsylvania Municipal League to find out how other cities have dealt with the same situation and expected some neighbors to address council.

“More on that to come. I think that we’re going to be probably hearing from some of the residents that all of a sudden find themselves living next door to a halfway house,” Barrett said.

Meanwhile, the weather and the city’s ability to plow and salt streets concerned council vice chairman Mike Belusko.

“With these storms that we’re getting, now we have another one, a doozy coming tomorrow (Wednesday), how are we on salt?” Belusko asked.

“It’s funny you say that,” responded city Administrator Ted Wampole.

The city went through 2,400 tons and received another 800 tons for a total of 3,200 tons, Wampole said. The city budgeted for 4,000 tons for 2018.

“We’re still under,” he said.

The only item on Tuesday’s agenda went unquestioned.

There was no discussion on the city’s pending request for a $9,876 grant from the state Department of Health for a tuberculosis program.


By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.