West Cocalico supervisors honor zoning decision

By on May 25, 2018

A contentious zoning hearing board decision on a local “no-impact” business was the subject of some supervisors’ discussion at their May 15 meeting.

The permission to operate a business at the property on the 90 block of Main Street in Reinholds was handed down by the zoning hearing board last month, but the decision stipulated there was to be no “impact” — no customers visiting, no extra traffic, and no industrial work. Just some light sewing, painting and jewelry-making.

A neighbor, Jennifer Murray, was present at the hearing, and visited the supervisors in their May 15 meeting to talk about how things have unfolded.

“The new building looks wonderful,” Murray said with a caveat: she questioned whether building permits and surveys were in place. As a property owner facing the alley where the building sits, Murray had some concerns.

“Without knowing where the property lines are, how are we going to be guaranteed our access?” Murray said, noting that spikes found in the alley do not provide concrete markers for property lines.

Murray, who moved to her property in 2015, said there’s also a lot of cars coming and going. She also mentioned a storage “pod” that has sat for weeks, possibly violating restrictions on outdoor storage.

“It seems pretty repetitive on a Monday-to-Friday time frame,” Murray said. “I live next to it. I can see what’s coming and going … I’m sad that the zoning hearing board is setting a precedent of running a business in our alley. I don’t want to see the Reinholds mini-mall.”

At one point, at the request of the supervisors, Murray came forward to present pictures on her smartphone to board members.

The pictures were important to chairman James J. Stoner, though he suggested they might be printed out to make them easier to view.

“You’ve got to have pictures,” Stoner said. “I’m listening to you — you may have valid issues. (But) I need something to work off of, because when you go to court with a civil suit, you need proof.”

Stoner called the zoning hearing board a “valuable tool” for the township.

“We will respectfully honor the zoning hearing board’s decision,” Stoner said, suggesting Murray call the police if vehicles are blocking driveways. “We’ll follow up with it — we’ll see where it goes from here. We try to accommodate everybody; we try to promote a community atmosphere.”

Kurt Eckenroad, a member of the zoning hearing board in attendance, said the board’s decision did include stringent restrictions.

“Anybody can lie to you,” Eckenroad said, regarding Murray’s testimony and the question of whether the zoning hearing board decision has been abided by in this and other cases.

Later in the meeting, in road work business, roadmaster Tom Showalter said the township crew has completed street sweeping, though this year, it was “quite costly” to take items to the landfill.

Chip sealing, Showalter said, may happen the second week in June, depending on rain.

Supervisors also discussed a possible fuel buying plan in which the school district offered to sell municipalities fuel from a centrally located plaza. Stoner suggested that while this might work well for other municipalities, it’s probably not right for West Cocalico. Township manager Carolyn Hildebrand, explained to the Ephrata Review on May 16 that the township can fuel up its diesel vehicles on site, at the maintenance plant, and that for gas vehicles, drivers can just go across the street to Weaver’s Store.

“We just don’t feel like it makes sense for us to be driving all that way,” Hildebrand said.

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