Plans to move Pennsylvania diner to Vermont scrapped

In a March 1st post I mentioned that there were plans to move the Sunrise Diner of Jim Thorpe, PA to Montpelier, VT. This info according to a piece reported in the Times Argus newspaper said there were problems with the proposed site, in regards to federal and state flood plain regulations. Well now the developer has decided it is not worth the effort and cancelled his plans. Ironically just this week, Randy Garbin of Roadsideonline posted info on a conversation he had with the current owner of the diner in Jim Thorpe who reported that he has not been approached by anyone from Vermont about buying the diner. (you can view this at Randy’s site http://www.btwmagazine.com/ . Here is the text of the new article that came out today in the Times Argus…

Diner’s move to Montpelier is now toast

March 28, 2008


MONTPELIER – Plans to park a vintage 1949 diner in downtown Montpelier have been put off permanently because of flood plain regulations.

Jeff Jacobs, owner of Montpelier Property Management, had plans in the works since last fall to move the diner – currently named the Sunset Diner and sitting empty in Jim Thorpe, Pa. – to an empty lot at 66 Main Street between Splash! and Brooks pharmacy in the heart of the capital.

The property is four feet below the floodplain, which means the diner would need to be elevated at least that amount to meet regulations.

“It would have changed the character of the diner and it would have changed the cost dramatically,” said Kevin Casey, an employee of Jacobs who was put in charge of the project. “I made the choice last week to kill it.”

The guidelines of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Plain Insurance Program require all new buildings to be raised above the base flood elevation. If Jacobs had gone ahead with the project and not raised the diner, he could have put the city at risk of losing federal disaster assistance funds if there was flooding in the future.

He also would have had a hard time getting a tenant to take over the diner without flood insurance, according to Clancy Desmet, Planning and Zoning Administrator for Montpelier. Without being at, or above, floodplain elevation, the structure could not have been able to be insured. The last major flood in downtown Montpelier was in 1992, but city officials routinely keep an eye on the nearby Winooski River every spring out of concern of a repeat occurrence.

“The history of flooding in Montpelier is pretty extensive,” said Desmet, adding that with the help of an architect or engineer, a downtown diner was possible. “The project could have happened.”

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