Suspected sex club no 'church,' board rules
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Late Saturday night "church" services are off this weekend at 4500 Turner Valley Road in North Huntingdon, and services may never resume.
A five-member township Zoning Board last night unanimously denied the application of John L. Ondrik and his wife, Kim, for a special exception variance to operate a church in a home located in the secluded property along the Youghiogheny River.
The Ondriks applied for special exception variance to the ordinance which would have allowed them to operate the Church of Spiritual Humanism in the home. A hearing in early September regarding the application was conducted before a full Zoning Board.
But residents who live nearby and some township officials believe that the church is really a sex club, known as Swingers Palace, that operates in the lower level of a two-story home the Ondriks were leasing to purchase.
Acting on information contained in a Web site that Swinger's Palace allegedly was operating at the same address, township officials cited property owner Jack Walkmeyer for operating a business in a residential area, a violation of an ordinance
The decision read by board member Jacqueline Willis was greeted by applause and cheers from a crowd of about 40 people that included residents and neighbors from the area and township officials.
Residents claim suspicious activities have been going on there for nearly 30 years.
"I feel vindicated," resident Michelle Brokenbek said. "A 27-year battle is finally over. Finally somebody listened to us and things got done."
The Ondriks, who did not attend the meeting, have 30 days to appeal the board's action in Common Pleas Court.
The Ondriks sought a variance which would have allowed them to operate a church in the home. A hearing in early September regarding the application was conducted before the full Zoning Hearing Board.
Township Solicitor Bruce E. Dice, Commissioner Richard Gray and several residents of the area testified in opposition of granting the variance, while Mr. Ondrik and Attorney Samuel S. Pangborn testified in support of the application.
"I feel the Zoning Board made the right decision," township Commissioner Lee Moffatt said. "These folks have suffered enough."
First Published October 15, 2008 12:00 am