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Just because it’s different doesn’t mean ‘raised house’ is a bad thing: Editorial

Posted 7/3/19

The “raised house” at the corner of Adelia and Maple streets in Middletown is back in construction mode.

We are not surprised. The reasons the borough issued a stop-work order for a …

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Just because it’s different doesn’t mean ‘raised house’ is a bad thing: Editorial

Posted

The “raised house” at the corner of Adelia and Maple streets in Middletown is back in construction mode.

We are not surprised. The reasons the borough issued a stop-work order for a few weeks had more to do with paperwork problems than an issue with the construction itself — or the complaints that a number of neighbors raised about it.

This isn’t your everyday housing construction. It’s a modular home sitting 15 to 20 feet above the ground with what is, at this point, exposed concrete blocks on the bottom.

That, really is the issue. People don’t like things that are different. It’s an axiom as old as time.

If this modular home were sitting at ground level, would anyone have complained? If what is being constructed were a traditional two-story house, would neighbors have complained that it would allow the homeowners to look straight down on their yards? Probably not.

We consider it a clever way to prevent flooding from seriously affecting a home built in a floodplain. It would take quite a flood to reach the upper floor.

Technically, this property is not part of a floodplain, although the area around it is. Previous owners of the property some years ago added fill to the lot that elevated the ground level out of the floodplain. The owners submitted a “letter of map amendment” to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and received FEMA approval, Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told us in an email.

We honestly can’t say at this point it’s the most attractive home we’ve ever seen, but we also are keeping in mind that it is not finished.

The owner, Charles L. Meinsler II of Palmyra, hasn’t spoken to us directly, but he is active on the posts on the Press & Journal Facebook page.

Meinsler posted on Facebook that he intends to place a 10-by-20-foot deck on the front of the house, and “mountain stone” all around the concrete walls. “And landscaped of course,” he added.

Will it make it look like the Taj Mahal? No. But it will look different and, most likely, “better” to those who live around it. Although our suspicion is that they will consider it lipstick on a pig.

Many neighbors don’t like it because it’s out of character with the homes around it. They voiced those concerns at a May 28 council meeting.

In other words, they don’t find it aesthetically pleasing.

They have concerns about how their property values will be affected, although we are not sure how big of an issue that really is.

On our Facebook page, Middletown Borough Council member Ian Reddinger stated: “I live next-door my property appraised at $200,000. You do the math what do you think that does to my property values? Doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.” He said he would not have purchased his current home if the “raised house” had been in place when he was looking.

We have no problem with neighbors voicing concerns about the looks of this new structure. But they are going to have to live with it, or move.

If you buy a house with empty lots around it, there is the potential of something being built you don’t like.

Meinsler, who is outspoken on our Facebook page, did lay out a challenge to neighbors who don’t like his structure.

“If anyone wants to buy me out and knock it down, I’m in at just over 150k so far. If I wanted a 1970s Brady Bunch looking house, that’s what I would have built. It’s a simple single-family dwelling over a garage.”

Being different doesn’t make it bad or wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean it violates any ordinances.

To the contrary, according to borough officials, there isn’t a thing that can be done about it. Such a structure would be allowed anywhere in Middletown. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, Klinepeter told us, makes it so.

Let’s see what the house looks like when it’s finished. How big of an impact will it really have on that neighborhood? Time will tell.