WB Parking Authority files lawsuit over former Hotel Sterling lot

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
The city’s parking authority filed litigation this week in Luzerne County Court to stop people from parking on the former Hotel Sterling lot in downtown Wilkes-Barre. - Times Leader file

WILKES-BARRE — As promised, the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority has filed a lawsuit in county court, claiming a River Street lot violates zoning ordinances and is depriving the city of revenue.

The suit was filed Wednesday through Jack Zelinka, an attorney with Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald. It centers around the vacant lot that was left in the place of the former Hotel Sterling at the intersection of River and Market streets in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

It also comes as fulfillment of a promise Zelinka made last week.

On June 19, the property was transferred from the city to H&N Investments, based in Wilkes-Barre. H&N is named as defendant in the suit.

Currently, the property is still vacant, and H&N has been using it as what the parking authority calls a “general parking area.”

The problem, the suit claims, is the lot in question is not zoned for such parking lots.

The authority claims the lot is in a C-3 Zoning District, in which such general parking areas are not allowed.

Additionally, the authority says H&N did not receive a variance from the Wilkes-Barre Zoning Hearing Board, something it would have needed to allow the lot to get around zoning laws.

“There is no provision in the Zoning Ordinance that allows H&N a waiver of its requirements other than a variance issued by the Zoning Hearing Board,” Zelinka writes in the suit.

A letter from the city, attached as evidence to the suit, suggests it was allowing H&N to use the lot as a parking area. However, the suit says the city has no authority to issue such permission.

“There is no applicable law that allows the City’s Director of Operations to waive, usurp or grant an exception to the Zoning Ordinance requirements,”the lawsuit states.

The authority is also claiming the lot is costing the city revenue because it attracts people who would otherwise be using parking spaces controlled by the authority.

The authority is seeking both a preliminary and a permanent injunction, asking the court to prevent the lot from being used for parking.

The suit comes after H&N recently withdrew an application for a variance to operate the temporary lot.

The zoning board’s solicitor, Charles McCormick, ripped into the company’s request, saying it lacked specifics.

The city’s parking authority filed litigation this week in Luzerne County Court to stop people from parking on the former Hotel Sterling lot in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_web1_TTL020318Hotel-sterling2-2-640×381-1.jpgThe city’s parking authority filed litigation this week in Luzerne County Court to stop people from parking on the former Hotel Sterling lot in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Times Leader file

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan