ZONING HEARING BOARD
A Salisbury Township church has received a variance to construct a ramp to improve access to the building.
The Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously 5-0 to grant the variance for Emmanuel Fellowship Church of Allentown, 1923 S. Bradford St.
Zoner Todd Laudenschlager made the motion, seconded by zoning hearing board member Ronald Evans, to bring approval of the variance to a vote. Before the vote, none of the zoners voiced questions concerning the church appeal.
The variance allows construction of a 122.72- square-foot addition with an insufficient front-yard setback (20 feet required; 0 feet proposed). The church is in the township C2 Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District.
Before the vote, Emmanuel Fellowship Pastor Joseph Csontos explained to zoners during the approximate 20-minute discussion at the Feb. 4 hearing that access to the church is problematic for persons with disabilities.
“It’s a real hardship,” Csontos said. “A lot of people can’t come to church because of the steps. And they can’t go down to the basement for the bathroom.
“Our former pastor can’t come to church. One of our parishioners had his foot cut off. So, those are our hardships,” Csontos said.
“I’ve had several people fall down those steps. That’s how steep they are,” Csontos added.
The church building, which is off East Emmaus Avenue, dates to 1922 or 1923. Emmanuel Fellowship Church was founded in the 1970s by Dr. Joseph Nieves and his wife Gloria.
“We’re going to put in steps at the side of the building,” Csontos said.
A ramp is to be placed alongside the building with a pad at the top.
Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor, Atty. Victor Cavacini, referring to several photographs depicting the church entrance area, said to Csontos, before the zoners’ vote, “By approaching the entrance from a different point, you can avoid the steepness.”