The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 4, 2013

Therapy business zoning plan OK’d

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — In May, Judson Paknis tried to convince Hermitage Zoning Hearing Board to grant variances allowing him to convert a home into a business.

Arguing his case alone, the board only approved one of the three requests, essentially nixing the plan. The board said in its written opinion that Paknis had not alleged the property has unique physical characteristics that would prevent him from meeting the zoning requirements.

Wednesday, Paknis returned to the board with a lawyer to focus his argument and an engineer to testify that his plan is the best one available, and the board was more receptive, granting three variances that allows the project to proceed.

Paknis is the owner of Quantum Holistic Consultants, which he said offers an “advanced form of body work.” He uses hand-on techniques to help people eradicate pain and balance their energy systems, he said.

Paknis is renting space from a chiropractor in Brannan Square, Hermitage, but he wants to open his own clinic at 42 Wick Ave., a two-story house.

The property, behind Wick Plaza, prevents development obstacles in that three-quarters of it is in a central commercial zoning district, and the rest in a single-family residential zone.

He previously spoke of the neighborhood being quiet, which he said is essential to his business.

The house and a detached garage are on the commercial side of the line. Paknis wants to build five parking spots on the property, plus a backing up area for himself, his part-time secretary and clients to be able to leave the property without having to back onto Wick.

In order to accommodate this parking scheme, he would have to move the driveway to the south and put part of the parking area in the residential zone. The parking area also would come within 20 feet of the boundary line, which would prevent him from being able to build the required 20-foot buffer along the entire south boundary, he said.

“This is the only plan I can come up with that will work,” testified civil engineer Chris Winslow of Winslow Engineering Inc., Hermitage. He noted that putting the parking area behind the house also would require variances.

The board granted variances allowing part of the parking area in the residential zone, and for part of the buffer to be only eight feet wide.

In addition, the board approved a variance for Paknis to put up an opaque vinyl fence along the south and west boundaries instead of a masonry wall. Paknis argued the wall would take up too much space and he wants to save as much room as he can for buffer plantings and the parking area.

Paknis’ attorney, James Nevant II, noted that Paknis already has put up the fence and plans to plant a row of arborvitae.

“It would be our argument that he has done what the ordinance calls for and that he has exceeded it,” Nevant said.

Paknis said his plans would not alter traffic patterns or pedestrian traffic in the area.

While the neighborhood is “older” and “established,” this particular property is problematic because of its proximity to the East State Street corridor business district, Nevant said.

“It’s fate is commercial,” he said. “It is so close to the strip mall that it really doesn’t want to be a residence.”

He also argued that Paknis’ plan will not adversely affect the integrity of the residential neighborhood.

Stacy Ferencik, a client of Paknis’ whose family owns property on Wick, testified in support of his plan.

With the zoning board’s approval, Paknis can submit a land development plan for the property, which would be reviewed by city staff and the Hermitage Planning Commission before commissioners act on it.

Paknis said he likely will move into the office sometime next year.