Re-Uzit stores to consolidate

By on January 4, 2017

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Ephrata Borough Council is considering a plan which would consolidate a pair of Ephrata Re-Uzit stores into a new building on the site of 1040 S. State St.

Ephrata Borough Council members had decidedly mixed emotions Tuesday evening when the management of the stores presented a sketch plan to construct a new structure that would combine the stores at 22-24 E. Main St. and the Re-Uzit Furniture and Booksavers Store at 1054 S. State St. adjacent to Route 272.

Council, on one hand, expressed disappointment that the plan would require the closure of the Main Street location, but noted the planned new store would provide significant improvement to a drab corner on the outskirts of town.

Since 1982, the Ephrata Re-Uzit Stores have operated out of two locations.

During that time, staff and volunteers have restored quality donated items which are then resold.

“The stores place a high value on stewardship of donated items and in properly recycling un-saleable merchandise,” explained general manager David G. Worth.gary

Plans call for Ephrata Re-Uzit to acquire the current Meineke Muffler shop on the corner of South State and Linden streets.

If approved, demolition work will begin on the site once Meineke vacates the building in August.

The planned 35,850-square-foot building would be designed by Pioneer Engineering and constructed by ACI General Contracting. The new building will feature “green” energy efficiencies, including solar panels, geo-thermal systems as well as “green” insulation and lighting technologies.

The new business lwill feature a drive-up donation station, 88 parking spaces and a horse shed, according to the plan.

“The board, staff and volunteers have been preparing for this move for several years,” said Mark Zimmerman, chairman of the board.

“We hope that the consolidation of the two storefront operations and the Booksavers online operation into one location will provide increased operational efficiencies and lower costs while providing better drop off and processing facilities. Increased retail space will provide more good-quality items reasonable prices for more customers. There will be increased volunteer opportunities in all aspects of the operation and increased revenue to give to the work of MCC and local programs. We are very pleased to be entering a new chapter in our almost 35 years of service in Ephrata.”

Councilman Vic Richard commented that he was sad to see the downtown Ephrata store slated to close but that he felt the change to the South State Street location would be a huge improvement. He also commented that it was his understanding that there may already be parties interested in the purchase of the downtown location. Richard noted the organization has been a positive addition to the Ephrata community for all of these years.

In other news, Council approved an agreement with Ephrata Area School District requesting a tax exoneration on nine borough-owned properties. In years past, the school district had provided exoneration on eight borough-owned properties.

However, this year the district referred the borough directly to the Lancaster County tax collection office for this matter. In the process in addition to the eight properties which consisted of vacant lots, playgrounds, and swamp areas located throughout the borough, the borough will request exoneration consideration from the county for the former state police barracks located adjacent to Route 272.

While an exact dollar amount for the exoneration savings was unavailable as of press time it was explained by Christine Moore, Ephrata borough director of finance and administration, that the practice of exonerating non-revenue generating borough owned property from being taxed is not a new practice. This has been an annual request between the borough and school district for many years. The difference this year is that the borough will need to seek this exoneration through the county set of through the school district. Moore added that the decision to grant or not grant exoneration was not up to the school district but the county. Should the former state police barracks be sold or leased in the duration of this year that property would lose its tax-exempt status.

Because of a deadline to file an exemption with the county on this coming Thursday, borough council voted to approve the request unanimously Monday night.

And finally, the development activities committee chair Linda Martin said her committee would recommend council approve the final plan, subdivision and land development agreement, as well as the operation and maintenance storm water agreement for the Hocking Apartments project. That project suffered a setback in November when Council would not approve the preliminary plan as the projects final plan.

The project was returned to the committee to review and address a number of concerns raised up until that point. With those concerns now addressed, council now appears poised to prove these plans and agreements clearing the way for the project to move forward.

In November, there had been some question regarding the height of a retaining wall at the project. At Monday night’s meeting, council member Vic Richard question property owner Julie Hocking regarding the final site of that wall. Hocking confirmed that the wall height was 12 feet high and less.

A vote of the full council on the Hocking project will take place at the regular session of council on Monday night.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, please visit their website at www.ephrataboro.org. Now in his second decade covering Ephrata Borough Council meetings as a free-lance correspondent, Gary P. Klinger enjoys the comments and feedback of the readers via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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