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Lottery suspended at downtown store because of Disability Act requirement

State Lottery officials suspended lottery sales yesterday at a downtown Tyrone store because it was not able to comply with Americans with Disability Act requirements within one year of starting lottery operations.
The store’s owner has been working with Tyrone Borough and PennDOT in order to comply with the need to build ramp for handicapped access as required by lottery rules.
Lock Haven business owner Paul Mahoney went to Tyrone Council this week about his request to build the ramp to allow access to his tobacco store located at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Tenth Street. Mahoney owns the Puff-N-Snuff store in Tyrone along with about 20 stores in central Pennsylvania.
Before going to council, Mahoney had been in contact with code enforcement officer Tom Lang regarding the issue. He said he had been told he needed a permit from PennDOT since it owns the right-of-way on the sidewalk along 10th Street where the proposed ramp would be built.
PennDOT granted the request. However, the proposed 16-foot long ramp would cross two property lines, which is not permitted by the Tyrone’s zoning ordinance.
The ramp would be built on the outside of the building along 10th Street and connect to a landing at the store’s entrance. Lang told The Herald this morning the building’s property line extends one foot out from the building. The ramp would be about three feet wide. So, it would cross the line between the property and PennDOT’s right-of-way (the sidewalk) thus creating the two lines.
Mahoney went back to Lang when he was granted the PennDOT permit and was informed of the zoning issues. Lang told council he had been informed it was the first time PennDOT had granted a request to allow something to be built along its right-of-way. Lang also said in his time as code officer he had not seen any other situation where someone wanted to build between two property lines.
A PennDOT District Nine spokesperson was contacted about Mahoney’s request and eventual approval for a permit. Tara Callahan said, “While it’s an unusual circumstance, from PennDOT’s perspective they didn’t see any reason not to grant it.”
Mahoney said he planned to seek a variance through Tyrone’s Zoning Hearing Board. Lang told Mahoney at the meeting if he wanted to spend money to go before the hearing board that was up to him. He indicated he didn’t think Mahoney’s chances before the board were very good. The cost to go before the board to seek a variance is $200.
Mahoney also discussed being informed about the possibility the building at 978-80 Pennsylvania Avenue might be shut down completely because of code violations by the building’s owner.
The building was posted for condemnation on March 7. Due to the code violations, the possibility existed the tenants would have to vacate by March 20. Work in the back of the building to repair a wall had been on again and off again. Lang informed council work started again at the building earlier in the day of the council meeting on Monday.
Lang told Mahoney the borough was not required to inform him of the condemnation notice, but said he did so as a courtesy. Lang said it was up to the owner of the building to inform tenants.
Mahoney told The Daily Herald that he went to PennDOT based on what Lang had told him to do.
“When I came in (to see Lang again) there was not even an idea there would be something the matter,” said Mahoney. “Within thirty seconds he said ‘this isn’t going to fly’.”
He also said Lang told him prior to the council meeting that he would be wasting his time if he went before the zoning hearing board.
Mahoney summed up his disappointment with the way things were handled by saying of public officials, “They’re supposed to be there to help you.”
Lottery spokesperson Steve Kniley explained his agency’s position regarding the ramp requirement for the store. He said all new lottery retailers are required to be ADA-accessible. The Lottery has a program to allow retailers up to one year to comply. The agency also provides financial assistance to retailers.
“Lottery retailers are basically working for the state and our policy is to have it be available to anyone that wants to use it,” said Kniley. “The policy is a good one and the Lottery believes in it.
“He (Mahoney) could get his license back, it is not revoked, it is suspended until such time that the ADA requirements are met,” said Kniley. “We’d very much like to be a retailer. We have no other issues with him.”
Kniley said he did not know if the state’s offer of financial help would still apply since the one-year grace period to become compliant had passed as of earlier this month.
Code officer Lang told The Herald this morning that the zoning hearing board meeting about the variance has not been scheduled. He also commented about the condemnation order for 978-80 Pennsylvania Avenue. He said the condemnation would not be put into effect as long as the repair work continued. The building owner William Loner has been granted monthly permits to complete the work. The latest one is valid until sometime April according to Lang.