Fit Farm facility still a contender in zoning fight

By on July 29, 2015

For two and a half hours, Attorney Kenelm Shirk offered testimony in an effort to have a zoning permit for the physical fitness facility located at Steffy Concrete, 243 E. Reamstown Road, looked upon favorably.

Review file photo. The Fit Farm is housed within Steffy Concrete.

Review file photo.
The Fit Farm is housed within Steffy Concrete.

Attorney Charles Sheidy, who convened the July 8 East Cocalico zoning hearing, didn’t consider most of the previous zoning board cases over the last 10 years that Shirk presented to be applicable.
Zoning hearing board members Jeffrey Mitchell, Amy Nidermyer, and Brian Wise listened intently to proceedings. Ashley Fichthorn, chairman of the zoning hearing board, recused himself from the case due to personal friendship with the applicant.
Shirk claimed a thorough review of the last ten years of zoning hearing board rural occupation decisions for secondary/accessory businesses by Attorney Sandra Snyder “found quite a bit of discrepancies.”
The above testimony occurred in the township because the Court of Common Pleas, which received the case on appeal, remanded it back to the township for additional testimony.
The East Cocalico Zoning Hearing Board didn’t grant Steffy’s application for a club permit, which was submitted after the physical fitness club (known by members and printed on T-shirts, as “Fit Farm”) was built, furnished, and operating.
The land on which Steffy Concrete is located is zoned as a conservation district and has no public water or sewer, Tony Luongo, zoning officer for East Cocalico Township, said.
“There are things that need to happen for the club permit to be granted,” Luongo said previously. “Our ordinance states that if you want a second principal use on the property you have to prove the property can be divided and then you need engineering studies, storm water management plans, and other things.”
The fitness facility started when insurance premium discounts were offered for on-site fitness facilities, which research showed helped employees stay healthier.
Steffy constructed the physical fitness facility. It was successful and employees appreciated using it. Family members, relatives, and friends were interested in using this new facility in their neighborhood.
Memberships at a nominal fee of $15 dollars per month were established for the less than 200 members. Several ladies who participate in the fitness classes and use the fitness room told township supervisors at the June 4 meeting what a positive difference this facility has made in their health and well-being.
The business is surrounded by residential zoning. And that’s where the problem first started. Residents complained about loud music coming from the facility.
Five residents attending the July 8 hearing said the noise is no longer an issue.
The residents have two concerns: increased traffic and whether Steffy will start a social club if his permit is granted.
While a social club is a permissible use under the conditions for a club permit, Steffy originally said he did not intend to open a social club when the case first started. A social club permit could open the door for games of chance and a limited liquor license.
A phone call to Steffy was not returned and he made no comments during the July 8 zoning hearing.
“My main objection is safety,” said Bernard Morrissey, 254 E. Church St. “The traffic is horrendous and vehicles fly down the road. We can’t have our grandchildren — we have 22 — play out in the front yard because of the traffic.”
Anything else on the Steffy property will bring additional traffic, he said.
Ray and Donna Englert, 209 E. Church St., as well as Jesse and Emanuel Brubaker, said overall the noise level has improved, but remains loud when during group classes.
“We have no problem with the women who use the facility,” said Donna Englert. “It’s the social club aspect that would be a problem. This is a high traffic road with heavy equipment. The social club would make things worse.”
It is anticipated that any additional findings will be reported at the August Zoning Hearing Board prior to the case returning to the Court of Common Pleas.

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