Upper Saucon Township supervisors are planning to go back to the future with a section of the municipal zoning ordinance that limits the number of unrelated people who can live under one roof.
Up until 2010, the township zoning law allowed up to three unrelated people to live in one dwelling unit. The law was changed that year because of growing concerns about DeSales University students who were renting off-campus apartments and homes, said Township Manager Thomas Beil.
But there was an unintended consequence of the new law: It made it practically illegal to establish a group home—for mentally challenged or handicapped people—with three residents.
The township has a provision in its zoning law that specifically allows group homes in residential districts, provided they are licensed by the state Department of Public Welfare. But DPW won’t license a group home unless it has at least four residents.
A person interested in establishing a group home in the township pointed out the gap the township’s laws create, Beil told supervisors.
By consensus, supervisors authorized solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich to draft a revision that would allow up to three unrelated people to live together without a DPW group home license.
If supervisors do adopt the change, it would again make it legal for three non-related DeSales students to live together in off-campus housing, Beil said.