A Ligonier Township couple seeks to create a summertime oasis for their family by adding an above-ground swimming pool and deck at their home.

However, the pool will not meet the minimum setback requirements for an accessory structure in the township’s agricultural district because of the property’s odd footprint and small size.

Cody Krenzke and Shannon Deemer on Tuesday appealed for a dimensional variance from the Ligonier Township Zoning Hearing Board, which unanimously voted to approve their request.

The proposed 30-foot-diameter swimming pool and adjacent deck at the Nature Run property, which measures only 14,388 square feet, falls short of the required 20-foot side yard setback for an accessory structure in the agricultural zoning district.

The minimum lot size for a single-family home in that district is 65,000 square feet, according to Ligonier Township’s zoning ordinance.

Like others in the neighborhood, the couple’s small, pie-shaped, non-conforming property is typical of those found in the township’s village district, as zoning and community development officer Jim Nieusma explained. The rear lot line tapers to just over 17 feet.

The proposed pool location behind the house and garage would leave about a 9-foot setback on each side.

The couple acquired the property in July 2017 and live there with their two sons. As a first-time home buyer, Krenzke said he was not aware of the township’s zoning requirements for a swimming pool, which he had already purchased before discussing the matter with Nieusma.

“I knew my yard was oddly-shaped, but I didn’t realize that would obstruct me from putting up a pool,” Krenzke testified. “But with there being no way for me to extend my yard to meet those setbacks, I really, really don’t have any other choice but to ask you guys for permission to grant me that setback variance at this point.”

Another obstacle is the property’s septic system and leach bed, also located behind the garage. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also requires a 10-foot setback from a leach bed, which pushes the swimming pool further toward the narrowest part of the property and forces the deck to be attached to that side.

Zoning hearing board chairman Scott Gongaware, secretary Linda McDowell and first alternate member Doug Kurtz had a few questions about the pool and property configuration. One neighbor also spoke during the public hearing concerning Krenzke and Deemer’s appeal.

Susan Ylvisaker and Ed Gordon own an adjacent lot, as well as a 47-acre farm located catty-corner to Krenzke and Deemer. There is an active construction road and future driveway running along the boundary line to the farm where frequent vehicle traffic is expected for the next three to four months.

Ylvisaker said while they do not want to deny the family the use of their pool, their primary concern is safety, given the nearby construction traffic.

Worried about having small kids less than 10 feet from the driveway, she requested that a fence be added if possible.

“We just don’t want to see any accidents. And right now, it’s been pretty busy with vehicles coming in and out,” Ylvisaker said.

The zoning hearing board voted 3-0 to approve the variance, with the conditions that the above-ground swimming pool is located no closer than nine feet from the property line and that Krenzke and Deemer follow all regulations for its construction, including the deck.

At 54 inches tall, the pool does not require a fence, but the deck must have a locking or removable set of stairs, Nieusma said.

Kurtz pointed out that the minimum side yard setback for a non-confirming property in all districts under the zoning ordinance is actually 10 feet, so the board in reality granted a one-foot setback for the swimming pool.

Board solicitor Mark Sorice explained that irregularly-shaped lots and those that predate Ligonier Township’s zoning ordinance, originally enacted in 1969, constitute hardships from which property owners may appeal to the township for relief.

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