Zoning Board Rules Against "Tourist Homes"

By Mallory Lane

Published 07/22 2014 05:47PM

Updated 07/22 2014 06:19PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - A decision has been made on a controversial zoning issue in a Centre County borough.

The State College Zoning Hearing Board decided the way two borough homes were being used were in fact for "tourist home" purposes and say it won't be permitted.

The two homes at question are zoned as R-2 residential properties, meaning they are specifically designed to be a single-family home in a residential zoned neighborhood, but these two properties are being used for what the borough and neighbors are calling "tourist homes."

"It takes away from the neighborliness of the neighborhood," Janet Engeman said.

Engeman is pleased with the Zoning Hearing Board's decision Tuesday.

"This is what I was hoping would take place," she said. "I live just a couple doors away from those properties and we've been aware of the problem for quite some time."

She, other neighbors and the zoning board said 612 Walnut Street and 138 West Prospect Avenue are being advertised as vacation homes. They're often rented out on a short-term basis for special event weekends, especially during Penn State's football season.

Neighbors said not having consistent residents in the homes goes against code and is making their neighborhood less neighbor-friendly.

Now, the borough said this type of transient housing isn't allowed.

"The critical matter here was that the two owners were not occupying those two homes," Stanford Lembeck, Chairman of the Zoning Hearing Board, said. "They live some place else."

Craig and Susan Stout own the two homes in question and said while the board didn't rule in their favor, some other big questions were answered.

"It's not the decision that we wanted, but I think we came a long way in defining what it is we are permitted to do with these homes in the R-2 zoning district," Stout said. "They did clearly define that seven nights or more is permitted."

The Stout's have three options now. They can file an appeal with the county, they can begin advertising and renting the homes for seven nights or more, or they can go to a nine to 12 month lease.

The owners said they'll discuss their options with their attorney and make a decision at a later date.

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