Too early to say if Aldi coming to township

By on May 18, 2016

The question of whether an Aldi grocery store is coming to Ephrata Township remains up in the air.

Engineer Jim Caldwell addressed the issue at Tuesday’s Ephrata Township Supervisors meeting and said any possibility that the store might come to the township was in the extremely preliminary stages at this point at best.

According to Caldwell, Aldi stores are the nation’s ninth largest grocery chain and offer their own brands of discounted food products.

He said the proposed project would be adjacent to the Ephrata Commons Shopping Center, which is home to the Giant, McDonalds, Starbucks and Five Guys, among other familiar chains. If the plan goes forward, the new store would call for renovating the current CJ Sportswear Building, parking lot and constructing an addition onto the existing building.

At this phase, among the issues being looked at by parties interested in making this happen include conducting traffic studies.

In other township news, with 94 percent of all local crimes being theft, the supervisors are looking at an ordinance which would make those trying to dispose of stolen property think twice before doing so locally. This effort would mirror efforts already underway in Ephrata Borough.

Solicitor Charles Sheidy reported that a rough draft of the ordinance requiring strict record keeping and reporting by pawnbrokers, antique, secondhand and junk dealers for certain items pawned and purchased, has been submitted for review. Such information has proven successful to law enforcement in other communities in their criminal investigations of theft and other crimes.

As Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey pointed out, however, the optimal outcome would be for both the township and borough ordinances to be as closely aligned as possible. Ephrata police handles police coverage for both municipalities.

Developing a cohesive ordinance that works for both municipalities, however, may prove to be the easiest part of this process. Following comments shared at Tuesday’s meeting, it appears working through the logistics of the new ordinance may prove tedious at best.

Two local video game business leaders provided insights into the impact the proposed ordinance could have upon their businesses. Spencer Brossman, owner of Complete in Box Video Game Store, and Mike Finch, from Game Stop, explained that in both cases, they require a photo I.D. before they will offer cash or a store credit in exchange for any used games or game platforms.

“I’ve owned the store since 2011,” Brossman said. “In that time, I’ve taken in over 50,000 in trade-ins. We have young and old alike that come in to make trades.”

Brossman explained that his store works closely with the police, and in the dozen or so times things had been reported to the store, Complete in Box has been able to help get things returned to the original owner.

According to Brossman and Finch, however, the challenge is in tracking and reporting every single thing that comes in every day.

“We are all for helping out the police,” added Brossman. “Over these five years, only about a dozen times things were reported to the police, we turned things back over to the police when commanded to do so.”

At issue with products handled at stores are that most products traded such as video games, CD’s and DVD’s have no distinguishing characteristics or serial numbers. Gaming consoles, which do have such characteristics, can be recorded, but are generally of little help because most consumers have not taken the time to record those numbers or keep proper records of this information to aid law enforcement authorities in the event of a theft.

Key points that Brossman and Finch wanted the supervisors to recognize is that their businesses can literally take in hundreds of items per day. The amount of time required for record keeping and reporting under the proposed new ordinances could not only significantly bog down their businesses but drive business away.

Finch challenged the effectiveness of such an ordinance. He pointed out that such an increase in record keeping and reporting would have unintended consequences of driving thieves to unload their goods elsewhere, such as Craigslist and other more nefarious locations, where law enforcement would have an even harder time retrieving things for the rightful owner.

Harvey suggested officials from both municipalities, the police department and local gaming businesses meet to discuss some middle ground on the ordinance. Brossman and Finch agreed. Following open comments, the three met to arrange such a meeting.

Harvey pointed out that the ordinance is aiming at the broader issue of second hand dealers, antiques and pawn dealers. He said with such an ordinance in place, law enforcement has been very successful at recovering things.

Supervisor Tyler Zerbe agreed. He pointed out the challenges such industries face when dealers are presented with customers trying to sell items such as old baseball cards or 78 rpm records.

“Those items should be added to those lists,” said Zerbe. ‘The really expensive items that come in, especially from teens or young adults. They beg the questions of where did you get them.”

“Every single time we got a call from the police it was always a sibling or a child stealing something from a parent,” Finch said. “We are willing to meet and talk through this.”

The supervisors also discussed the township’s enlarged right-of-way in front of property at 536 and 538 Ridge Avenue.

The property was subdivided in 2014 when Christopher S., Vanessa J. and Mary Ellen Klinger purchased portions of that property from Noah and Joan Stahl in order to build a new residence. At issue was whether the township would require a new deed for that right-of-way. Since there were no immediate plans to widen the roadway or the lane, there was no need seen in going through the legal process of doing so. However, there is also the precedence of creating a “bank” of such right-of-ways in the event the need should arise.

Considerable discussion took place on the matter because the supervisors were looking for a degree of consistency to avoid creating a “patchwork” of right-a-ways with deeds in some places with others not bearing deeds in other areas.

In the end, the supervisors agreed to look into the matter further so that the township has everything in order should it ever be needed in the future.

For additional information on Ephrata Township, visit their website at ephratatownship.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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