Machinery Storage Is Protested

Posted: June 16, 1991

Several residents of a new housing development in Northampton complained to township supervisors Wednesday about farm machinery stored on a neighbor's property.

"This equipment is in violation of zoning regulations. . . . My children could get hurt," said Elizabeth DiSpirito, of Glenboro Drive in Richboro.

The machinery belongs to Burger Turf Farm, a family business on Upper Holland Road. At one time, Robert Burger Sr. owned 80 acres, inherited from his parents and grandparents. But in July 1988, officials said, Burger sold his land to U.S. Home Corp. in Freehold, N.J., keeping a mere one acre for his home and a small barn, which has since been torn down.

Burger, though, did not want to give up farming and continued to operate a sod farm on about 150 acres belonging to James Morrissey of Huntingdon Valley.

Burger needed a place to keep his machinery, so in the fall of 1988 he

applied for a permit to build a pole barn in which to store his equipment.

But zoning officer Joanne Malba told him that when he sold off most of his acreage he lost his legal right to store the equipment, including a combine and two tractor-trailers.

He would need a minimum of five acres under zoning regulations to be permitted to keep the equipment. The land he rents doesn't count, the township has said.

Burger appealed Malba's decision to the Zoning Hearing Board, and the board rejected Burger's appeal in December 1988, after which Burger appealed the matter to the county court. In March 1990, Malba said, she issued a violation notice to Burger, ordering him to move his equipment, which remains on the small parcel of land he still owns.

"Since then, the zoning code enforcement department has filed a citation with District Justice Donald Nasshorn because Burger ignored the cease-and- desist," Malba said. According to Township Manager Bruce Townsend, Nasshorn has refused to take action until a decision is reached in the county court.

The issue is muddied, according to homeowner Steven Pein, because when the development was transferred from U.S. Home Corp. to another developer, Toll Brothers, the new owners deeded about 0.6 acres back to Burger for his


Toll Brothers executives could not be reached for comment.

Peter Burger, son of Robert Burger, said in an interview that the family kept a combine, a few tractor-trailers and other equipment there that was too large to be stored in a smaller barn.

Burger said he and his family wished to remain at peace with his neighbors, and that it was upsetting that he had never met any of them before he was issued a violation notice.

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