Dale Drive Residents Question Zoning Law

Some residents who live on Dale Drive in Fairview Township are upset by the construction of an extended driveway in their neighborhood, which they say looks more like a trail or access road, belonging more in a rural area than their street. They questioned the zoning law which allowed the construction of this driveway and, at the Sept. 5 Board of Supervisors meeting, asked that the law be examined for flaws and possibly changed.

A new home is being constructed deep into the woods at the end of this driveway, which begins at the point where Parkland Drive intersects Dale Drive. Currently, the road is unpaved, with a bulldozed path appearing where there were once woods. This looks out of place in the neighborhood and devalues the existing homes there as it brings down the aesthetic quality of the area, Mark Zurek, of 58 Dale Drive, told the board.

A handful of other neighbors sat with Zurek, supporting his statements. “It cheapens the value of our homes,” he related. “It’s making our neighborhood look cheap.”

While Zoning Officer John Doddo attends each board meeting, he was out of town for this one. Supervisor Robert Orloski stated that he assumed that, if Doddo approved the permit for the construction of this driveway, that the property owner had legally met all the necessary requirements.

“But the requirements are flawed,” Zurek countered. While his driveway and most of his neighbors’ are no longer than 35 feet, this one is at least 120 feet long, making it out of character with the area.

Tom Gemmell, of 62 Dale Drive, said he was concerned that the property owner plans to build multiple homes. More than one home would require permits and review by the zoning officer, Orloski said. The law further states that, if multiple homes go in, they must look similar. Orloski also pointed out that the current home and road are not finished, so it’s premature to say it won’t fit in with the neighborhood; that road may still be paved.

“But by allowing these extended driveways in a newer development, it diminishes the value of existing homes,” Zurek insisted, adding that he will appeal his taxes when they change based on this new addition to the area.

Township Attorney Donald Karpowich explained that he’s never seen a zoning law regulate driveways or driveway length. He informed Zurek and others that they have a right to appeal the homeowner’s zoning permit so it be reopened and reviewed.

After lengthy discussion, there was some confusion over whether the driveway had been grandfathered into the zoning law and it was actually a paper street, an already-created street on a map that was never constructed. With those questions, Orloski agreed to pull the zoning permit that Doddo issued and review it.