Council gets look at new Re-Uzit building plan

By on June 7, 2017

A final building plan for Ephrata’s Re-Uzit Stores Inc. was submitted to borough council Monday evening.

The Re-Uzit Store, a mainstay non-profit business along Main Street for many years, will be moving operations to 1054 S. State St., where the 501(C)3 organization already sells furniture at low cost.

The store has outgrown its small quarters along Main Street and needs to expand, said David G. Worth, general manager of the Ephrata Re-Uzit Stores.

The business benefits the work of the Mennonite Central Committee.

The plan includes combining two lots and demolishing all existing structures at the South State Street locale. A 36,000-square-foot building for retail sales and use as a warehouse will be built on the site, pending approval of the land development plan.

“They’ve been a good neighbor and I’m sorry to see them leave the downtown, although I’m glad they’ll be staying in Ephrata,” said Councilman Victor Richard.

Monies coming from the Re-Uzit Store are donated to charities and most of their staff are volunteers, Richard said.

Councilman Ricky Ressler also had praise for Re-Uzit’s plan, saying, “I think the project really enhances the borough and will enhance the appearances out there.”

Richard expressed one concern; the wording used by the planning commission.

“That last paragraph really seems like a red light,” Richard said. “I don’t want it to look like we’re picking on the Re-Uzit Store.”

The councilman was referring to the planning commission’s statement: “The planning commission recommends that borough council investigate if this property could be made taxable and pursue…with the Lancaster County Tax Office, since this is a business.”

“I’m almost ashamed to see this,” Richard said. “Of all the 501-K businesses in the community, this is the only one to ever voluntarily give us money in lieu of property taxes. Not only are they the only one to give us money, but they’ve given us more than what their property taxes would be.”

The Re-Uzit Store, like churches, hospitals, and other non-profit entities, is not required to pay property taxes. The store participates in PILOT, also known as “payment in lieu of taxes.”

Worth told council members that they would continue to make donations both to the borough and to the fire company.

In another matter, a letter from Ann MacKenzie, coordinator of local Boy Scout Troop 38, requested use of the Ephrata Borough office parking lot and the Major Winter Memorial Trail parking lot, adjacent to East Fulton Street and Railroad Avenue, for the Scouts to park cars as a fundraiser during the Ephrata Fair, set for Sept. 26 to 30.

Matthew Smith and Ryan Cochran, representatives of the Ephrata Farmers Day Association, submitted a request to install a temporary video wall during the Fair.

The wall would be a 12-foot-by-6-foot electronic video wall at Whistle Stop Plaza.

Organization members are hoping the wall will increase revenues by selling advertising as well as broadcast important communications during the fair.

Councilwoman Linda Martin noted that this was a new concept for the fair.

“It’s been used at other fairs, like the Bloomsburg Fair, but this is a first for us,” Ressler said.

President Susan E. Rowe said the electronic wall had a variety of uses.

“It will include a video feed to Tent City, so you can see what’s going on, if they’re judging cattle, for example, and if there’s a lost child, it can give notice,” Rowe said.

A building project was submitted by Lynn Martin, owner of L and S Truck Painting, to build a free standing structure at 305 S. Reading Road, to be used as an office alongside the existing building.

The new building will be constructed on existing impervious blacktop and won’t impact parking conditions, according to Martin.

All requests are on the June 12 agenda for final approval.

Council did unanimously approve a rezoning request from Ephrata Township Zoning Hearing Board for a lease for the “Kneadit Massage and Bodyworks” at 21 Springhouse Road in Ephrata Township.

The business will pay $4,510 a month beginning in August, through Dec. 31, 2018.

In other news, Mayor Ralph E. Mowen told council that Ephrata Patrolman Brandon Bartholomew had been honored as Policeman of the Year.

“He is our fourth officer to receive ‘Officer of the Year’ and that just goes to show the quality of our department,” Mowen said.

Mowen asked that Bartholomew be given special recognition by the borough, and council members agreed.

 

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