Tyrone Zoning Hearing Board denies request for ADA ramp

Last month, a Lock Haven businessman went before Tyrone Council regarding his request to build a ramp to allow access to his tobacco store located at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Tenth Street.
Paul Mahoney owns the Puff-N-Snuff store in Tyrone along with about 20 stores in central Pennsylvania. On Monday, he was before the Tyrone Zoning Hearing Board to seek a variance to allow the ramp to be built after being told by code officer Tom Lang that the proposed ramp would not be permitted under Tyrone’s zoning ordinance.
The Zoning Hearing Board denied Mahoney’s request by a unanimous vote. This morning Lang told The Daily Herald, Mahoney has up to 30 days if he desires to file for an appeal of the decision through the Blair County Court of Common Pleas.
Mahoney said this morning he does plan to appeal the decision. He noted the borough had been granted a variance by the hearing board when it installed a ramp for the municipal building several years ago.
The Puff-N-Snuff store is located at 978-80 Pennsylvania Avenue. The building has been the site of code violations including issues regarding a back exterior wall. Work on the back wall has been started and stopped and the building owner, William Loner, was facing a condemnation order before work began again last month. As of this morning, part of the sidewalk along Tenth Street has been blocked off toward and past the back of the building. The back exterior is covered by a blue tarp on the lower level and remains exposed on the remaining floors.
Prior to last month’s council meeting, Mahoney had been working with Tyrone Borough and PennDOT in order to comply with the need to build a ramp for handicapped access as required by lottery rules. The same week of the council meeting in March, the Pennsylvania lottery suspended sales at the store. Mahoney had installed the lottery in 2005 and had a one-year grace period to comply with the lottery’s requirement for the ramp.
Mahoney had been in contact with code enforcement officer Tom Lang regarding the issue and was 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 said the building’s property line extends one foot out from the building. The ramp would be about three feet wide. 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.
Last month, The Daily Herald interviewed lottery spokesman Steve Kniley about the ramp issue and he explained his agency’s position. He said all new lottery retailers are required to be (Americans with Disabilities Act) 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.
At the time, Kniley said Mahoney’s license was not revoked. It was “suspended until such time that the ADA requirements are met.”
Kniley said, “We’d very much like him to be a (lottery) 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 early March.