AP NEWS

Thornhurst Seeks To Shut Down Rental Property

May 7, 2019

The 5,400-square-foot log house sits on more than three wooded acres, sleeps up to 30 people and lists a heated pool and a game room among its amenities. In the view of Thornhurst Twp., it’s also illegal. The township is asking Lackawanna County Court to reverse a decision by its zoning hearing board and find Pocono 4 Rent LLC’s commercial use of the Creekfront Log Mansion property at 15 Coombe Court does not comply with the township zoning ordinance. The township, which originally cited Pocono 4 Rent in October, contends the operation of Creekfront Log Mansion violates a zoning prohibition against for-profit overnight lodging and short-term housing of transients in a residential property in an agricultural zone. The dispute appears to be similar to one decided late last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In that case involving the commercial operation of a property in Hamilton Twp. in Monroe County, the court found the township’s zoning ordinance barred short-term transient use of homes in residential districts. Pocono 4 Rent, which is based in Staten Island, New York, and owns several properties in the Poconos, purchased the single-family Coombe Court property in 2017, for an undisclosed amount. In its appeal of the zoning board decision, the township said no one from the company has ever lived there or intends to live there, and the specific purpose of the property “is to rent to large groups on a short-term basis and to generate profits” by charging rates up to $2,300 a night. Without the knowledge, consent or permission of the township and without obtaining the appropriate building permits, Pocono 4 Rent transformed the former residential dwelling into a commercial rental unit by adding five bedrooms, finishing four existing bedrooms and finishing the basement, the township said. The property also lacks the appropriate sewage treatment facilities to handle 30 people, the township said. After the township filed its notice of violation against Pocono 4 Rent, the company filed a challenge before the zoning board, which conducted a hearing in December. The board determined the township issued its notice of violation in error and ruled in favor of Pocono 4 Rent on Feb. 26. Solicitor Joel M. Wolff argues in the township’s appeal that the zoning board decision was contrary to the zoning ordinance and “not supported by substantial evidence.” No hearing in the case has been scheduled yet, Wolff said Monday. Pocono 4 Rent has filed notice in county court of its intention to intervene in the case. Efforts to reach the company’s attorney, Joseph P. McDonald Jr. of Stroudsburg, were unsuccessful. Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9132