Township zoning board to consider exemption for car service business

By on June 28, 2017

The Ephrata Township Zoning board recently tabled discussion on a request for an exemption to establish an auto repair shop and towing facility at 471 N. Reading Road.

Township manager and zoning officer Steven Sawyer informed the board Michael R. and Judith Burkholder, of Ephrata, seek to move their current business to that location currently occupied by Garman Builders.

Garman is moving to a new location in Lititz.

Though Garman used the property for commercial purposes, it is zoned industrial. The Burkholders require an exemption for a non-conforming use to continue to use the property for commercial use.

Burkholder is the owner/operator of Cocalico Automotive at 10 Valley View Drive in Ephrata, a business he has operated for the past eight years, he said.

Because of increased business, Burkholder plans to move to the larger space. The new site will be used for service and maintenance on cars and light trucks and provide 24-hour towing, the same services that have been offered at the Valley View Drive location.

The Burkholders also plan to purchase the adjoining property at 494 Church Road.

That address, to the rear of the Reading Road property, has a building leased to tenants and no changes are currently planned for that building, Burkholder said.

A smaller addition built onto the main building at the Reading Road property is in disrepair and will be razed, with the cleared area to be used as a vehicle impound lot.

About 10 to 12 vehicles will be able to be parked in the lot, Burkholder said. A slatted chain-link fence will completely surround the lot, he added.

The only other change to the property will be a new door added to make a larger entry way.

The Ephrata man was reminded that a township ordinance states cars not being worked on are not allowed to stay on a lot for more than seven days.

Burkholder said he has an agreement with Heagy Towing along East Main Street to move any cars to which the ordinance would apply.

“I plan not to make it a junk yard or a salvage yard,” Burkholder said. “There will be no demolition or scraping cars.”

Because Burkholder has a wrecker and two ‘roll-backs,’ Zoning Chairman Kevin Seibert asked if there would be enough room for employees’ vehicles to be parked in the lot.

Burkholder expects to have about five employees and said there would be plenty of parking spaces.

Township resident Scott Cover said he lives across from the Garman building, at 515 N. Reading Road, and had some concerns.

“I have no problem with the business itself, but I want to make sure it’s maintained in a pleasant environment,” Cover said. “Our corridor is attractive and I don’t want to see this corridor being diminished by having vehicles in disrepair on a front lot.”

Burkholder said he is aware of the concerns and wanted to keep the area neat, too.

The board said they would give the Burkholders a decision next month, at the July 18 zoning board meeting.

In another hearing, a former state police barracks will receive new purpose when it becomes the home for the Knead It Massage and Body Works, owned by Jeremy and Denise Guldin, and did get the board’s approval to move their business to 21 Springhouse Road.

That location is in an industrial-I district and therefore, needed a special exemption.

The couple currently runs their business in a building they lease at 814 Dawn Avenue and the owner of the property has decided to use the building.

The couple have also been looking for a larger building to expand their business, they said.

The location is on 2.3 acres and the primary building, built in 1999, was formerly used as offices for a Pennsylvania State Police barracks. The PSP vacated the location in 2012.

The business will include four rooms for massage by Denise Guldin, who is a licensed massage therapist, and other rooms for fitness training.

Jeremy Guldin, a personal trainer, will have up to eight clients at a time per class, he said.

The business will have seven or eight employees.

No changes will be made to access the property and no increase in traffic is anticipated, according to Nancy Harris, a civil engineer who has served as a zoning officer.

Harris represented the Borough of Ephrata at the hearing.

“We feel this would blend in with the neighborhood,” Harris said.

In part because the Guldins need to vacate their current property by July 1, the board granted their exemption last week.

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