Bellefonte borough manager vs. homeowners

My neighbors and I have lived the past year and a half in peace. But since Bellefonte borough will have its way, it won’t last.

After going to several council meetings, we still don’t have an answer as to why the borough manager is going against three different and separate zoning laws — that prohibit the reopening of a vacant and burned out convenience store and gas station on our street. We attended a meeting where they had their lawyer speak, but we weren’t permitted to ask him any questions — or even talk to him.

Emails have gone unanswered … and we know why.

This store, which we believe is a non-conforming structure according to zoning, will be a chain store (another zoning violation in the new waterfront district) and has been the scene of nuisances to the homeowners of the neighborhood that result in noise, including foul language, domestic disputes and fistfights involving people who hang out there. They work on their cars and monstrous pickup trucks, peel out, honk horns continuously at their buddies and blare loud music. They leave beer cans and garbage behind that we attempt to clean up when it blows across the street to our properties. We’ve witnessed men urinating behind the building and they wave at us while we sit on our porches.

For all we know, there is other illicit activities going on there.

It doesn’t help that the borough manager has pulled off the drug enforcement officer, but added an assistant manager.

The wealthy new owner has already told us that he refuses to put a stop to what has gone on there in the past. He owns several other stores.

In fact, just because he can, he has decided to rope off the half-acre unused dirt lot in back of the building that we have used as the only parking on our block for 15 years. We have mowed the grass, plowed the snow, thinned out the woods and cleaned up the fallen branches and garbage left behind by partying teenagers. We have all worked hard to improve our homes and neighborhood.

So now we parallel park, which has been done in the past. We talked to PennDOT since it is a state road (but well within the borough) and the Bellefonte police, who have no problem with that. In fact, it has slowed down the speeding immensely.

I know the police don’t miss the convenience store either.

But as of this week, for the first time, the Bellefonte borough manager has had his men put up “no parking” signs along our block, too, leaving us nowhere at all to park.

This can be nothing but retaliation for pointing out the borough’s zoning violations. We will have to park as much as two blocks away, taking other homeowners’ spaces, hauling groceries in the ice and snow. We are getting ready to retire … and this is not what we ever expected.

We are not the only homeowners who have been greatly “inconvenienced” by Bellefonte Borough. We sat at a council meeting where they essentially voted to flood four homeowners’ basements so that a parking lot on the other end of town can be expanded. Their insurance will not cover “an act of borough.”

We pay very high taxes. Where does our money go? To bring in tourism?

Sure, Bellefonte is a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here.

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