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Accountant to replace architect's office in Unity

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

An accountant's office will replace an architect's office along Route 981 in Unity, and a homeowner got the go-ahead to build a large, barn-like garage to restore antique tractors.

The zoning hearing board heard details about the office at 5542 Pleasant Unity Road, which runs outside Pleasant Unity as Route 981. It has been an architect's office for the past several years and before that acted as storage for a printing business and a store that sold brass beds and antiques.

The accounting firm, acting as GB Realty LLC, has no interest in real estate but was incorporated as such to run the business in the 2,600-square-foot building, said managing member Mike Blissman.

Prior to planning the move to Route 981, the office is at 303 Old Route 30 in Hempfield. For 21 years, it was at the Oakley Park complex along Route 30, Blissman said.

The company will make no changes to the exterior of the building, except to add a sign similar in size to the one in place, he said.

Chairman Tim Thomas asked if the sign would be lighted. Blissman said it will not.

The zoning district allows for commercial use, but not residential use, according to the board.

Bradley King, attorney for GB Realty, said a heavy-equipment and paving business is nearby, and the accountant's office would have about six employees and only a few visitors per day.

“We believe (the paving business) is more obtrusive and disruptive than what (the office) is being used for,” he said.

There are more than enough parking spaces for the business, which requires one per 300 square feet, since it has about 15 spaces, the board determined.

Neighboring property owner Patricia Kuhn said she had no opposition to the changing use.

The board approved the nonconforming use for the office.

In another matter, the board heard Joseph Sheffler's request to build an oversized garage on his property at 105 Calvary Hill Road near Crabtree.

He requested a variance for a 3,360-square-foot pole building to replace an existing 768-square-foot garage.

The largest garage permitted in that zoning district is 2,000 square feet, solicitor Gary Falatovich said.

Sheffler said he built a house on the 10-acre property last year and wants to replace the garage that is used for everyday vehicles and to store antique tractors.

The board asked if he planned to do any business in buying or selling the tractors to repair.

Sheffler responded that he works on machines only for his personal use. He said he is a member of the Fort Allen Antique Farm Equipment Association.

“It's a hobby of mine, and I enjoy it,” he said.

The building will have no driveway access or utilities, Sheffler said.

“I think I'd like to build the building and give my checkbook a rest,” he said.

The garage is not considered a barn because his property is a residential lot in an agricultural district, Falatovich said.

The limits are placed on building size to prevent businesses from springing up unregulated, he said.

“It may turn into a repair shop, which is not a permitted use,” Falatovich said.

The board approved the variance for Sheffler, emphasizing that the garage must be used for only his personal tractors.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or