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County Zoning Board Approves Exception For Sober Living House

August 8, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — A ruling from the county zoning hearing board on Tuesday cleared the way for a sober living boarding house to open in Luzerne borough.

The zoning board approved a special exception requested by Christopher and Jeanne Grymko, who want to rent a home they own on Vaughn Street to up to five unrelated adult females in recovery from addiction.

The special exception is needed since the property is in a Residential zoning district. Luzerne County handles zoning issues for Luzerne borough.

The board’s ruling came at the end of a contentious hearing that stretched over two nights separated by five weeks. At least 15 Luzerne residents opposed to the sober living house attended both sessions of the hearing, which began July 3.

None of them testified Tuesday, but last month several Luzerne residents said they felt the Grymkos’ proposal did not provide sufficient safeguards and controls for the good of both the proposed tenants and their neighbors.

The Grymkos, who live in Forty Fort, countered that the residents would be required to submit to drug tests and follow a long list of rules and regulations, enforced by a house manager.

On Tuesday, Christopher Grymko provided the board with site and floor plans for the three-bedroom house, and a list of landlord/tenant responsibilities, as board members requested when the first session of the hearing recessed.

The hearing’s second session featured sparring over fine points of the county zoning ordinance between the Grymkos’ attorney, Mark McNealis, and attorney Donald Karpowich, who represents neighbors of the proposed boarding house.

Following an executive session that board Chairman William Harris said featured “intense debate,” the board voted unanimously, 3-0, to grant the special exception.

As soon as Harris announced the ruling, a Luzerne resident opposed to the project called out “Game on!”

Following the hearing, Karpowich said he plans to appeal the ruling to the county court of common pleas.

McNealis said he is confident his clients will prevail if an appeal is filed.

Contact the writer:

emark@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2117

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