View Full Version : Need advise FAST on Non-conforming/Zoning issue on new building/ADA compliance

03-16-2011, 04:18 PM
OK, two questions. We just had an unbelievable offer on the building we are in. Can't refuse the offer so we are now faced with purchasing another one. Problem is it's a 30,000 sq ft old school that has been vacant for over 2-3 years. Now since it has been, the borough rezoned as R2 only allowing a 2 family dwelling in it. To boot, it's in the flood zone. Being a realtor, I always steer people away from this but it's a perfect building for our use. Now I am faced with trying to get a non conforming use through and FAST......ha ha. Anyone have a similiar story and any tips? Good thing is the borough knows there is really no other good use for the building due to all the restrictions so I think they are on my side.

Now second questions and the big one....what about ADA compliance? Any way around this for a season use? This building is not laid out at all for ramps, handicap accessible without putting in an additional and elevator. This is just not in our budget and I have to deal with flood zone issues on this as well. Any tips on how to get around this issue?

I am meeting with L&I tomorrow morning, just wanted to see if there were any exceptions you guys might know about?

Oh, and the sprinkler thing as well? A whole nothing thing.

03-17-2011, 08:45 AM
Hey Spook,

This may not help you much but I did attend that Trailer Haunt seminar at Trans. The speaker mentioned something on ADA that made me think about it on a "business" standpoint. For the cost of ADA compliance, how many handicapped people truly attend your event. Can you get away with not being ADA compliant? Does the cost justify the return? He also said that they skirt the ADA issue by their staff lifting handicapped people in and pushing them through in THEIR wheelchair. Hope that helps a little. Good luck.


03-17-2011, 08:54 AM
Thanks Chaos:

I actually attended that seminar as well. It seems that since I have four levels (including a basement) they can not make you expense more than 20% of the total renovations to make ADA compliant a must. So that would include flooring, ramps, lifts, bathrooms, etc. To an existing structure this is the maximum you are required to spend.

Now meet with L&I this morning. Thank goodness he seems like a reasonable guy, he told me that I do not have to give handicap access to the entire building for such an "occupancy". I actually read some of this last evening on the ADA website. So if I give them access to the gym, bathrooms, and first floor I am good. The second, third and basement is all the same decor and I do not have to provide access. That was a great answer.

Sprinkler system is another subject. If anyone is PA has done anything with an existing building that has been vacant for over 12 months, I would appreciate the insite. I know Randy Bates has with Pennhurst however I am fairly certain he runs under "historical" which is a whole new twist. I am HOPEFUL I don't have to put them in, or can only sprinkler what is "in use at present".

03-17-2011, 09:01 AM
Heather I was talking to Brett Molitor (JamBam) on this topic last week as he's going through a similar situation. He mentioned some sort of system that delivers powder or chemical suppressant rather than water. You might want to send him an IM for details...

03-25-2011, 04:43 PM
Heather I was talking to Brett Molitor (JamBam) on this topic last week as he's going through a similar situation. He mentioned some sort of system that delivers powder or chemical suppressant rather than water. You might want to send him an IM for details...

Probably ansul. It's used a lot commercially over things like fast food fryers to dose the flames. I think it's pretty costly too, sprinkler systems might end up cheaper and easier. Good luck to ya Heather!!! That would be AWESOME for you.... would you keep it a schoolhouse theme cuz that would just RAWK!!

04-15-2011, 02:40 PM
If you go by the letter of the law, you need to be inspected (or register, do the classes and be your own inspector) by PA Dept. of Agriculture - Bureau of Rides and Measurements. Their code states that we must now follow ADA guidelines, which includes walkways of 48" wide as a minimum. They also require sprinklers, regardless of the buildings age, occupancy or any other variable. In short, if you're hosting a haunted house and have a building occupancy of 1 or more, you classify as a Special Amusement Building. ALL Special Amusement Buildings are required to be sprinkled. In PA, there is NO variance to get around this.

04-15-2011, 05:46 PM
1) Rezone the rezone, bring it before the town council if you have one there an try to offset the tax revenue they're probably looking for which is why they rezoned you to begin with. If you pay the tex they want they shouldnt care what you put there.

2) I haven't seen an ADA haunt yet and CT is pretty strict on this issue. There must be ways around it, read the fine print and perhaps consult a lawyer. Quick google search lead me on the track of "reasonable accommodation"