HONESDALE - Borough Council has denied a conditional-use application submitted by a property owner who had sought to establish ground-floor apartments on Main Street.
Council members Harry DeVrieze, Scott Smith, Dan Barnes, Bill Canfield and Juanita Pisano voted unanimously Monday night in denying the application submitted by Nicholas Bamonte, owner of the former Hanson building at 1037 Main Street.
Council President James Brennan had recused himself from voting due to his owning property on Main Street.
Councilman Robert Jennings was absent due to an illness.
Bamonte, a New York resident, has six second-floor apartments in the building and had sought to add two more on the ground floor.
He had previously stressed to council that the front of the building, currently vacant, would house a store. The storefront would be about 1,400 square feet and the proposed two rear, ground-floor, two-bedroom apartments would be about 800 square feet each.
Main Street is zoned C-1 - commercial/retail/office and the ground-floor apartments needed to be conditionally approved since they would have been a nonconforming use.
The property owner can appeal council's decision in commonwealth court, said Richard Henry, the borough's solicitor.
Contacted Tuesday, Bamonte said he had not heard about council's decision and did not know if he would appeal it. His lawyer, A.G. Howell, did not return calls seeking comment.
DeVrieze, who made the motion to deny the application, said in an interview he voted against the proposal in large part because speakers at public meetings were generally against ground-floor apartments on Main Street.
The councilman also noted that the proposal went against the comprehensive plan and was not recommended by the borough planning commission.
DeVrieze said even if he personally was for ground-floor apartments in the district he still would have voted against the proposal due to the public's sentiment.
Gail Tucker, executive director of The Greater Honesdale Partnership, said the organization is very pleased with council's decision.
Several property owners and business proprietors had previously spoken against Bamonte's proposal, saying there would be parking issues and ground-floor apartments would jeopardize the character of the neighborhood.
The borough planning commission had earlier voted to not recommend the application to borough council, but council was not bound to follow the recommendation.
Councilwoman Juanita Pisano said she voted against the application because, if it was granted, it could open the door to other ground-floor apartments on Main Street.
"And then we wouldn't have a Main Street," she said.