Zoning delays carwash property upgrade

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor • rebecca-z@citizenstandard.com

VALLEY VIEW – The Hegins Twp. Zoning Hearing Board conducted a a variance hearing on December 28 concerning the Harman carwash property located at the corner of Route 25 and Gap Road.
The Hemblere Group LLC of 490 Suedburg Road, Pine Grove, represented by Dave Frew, wishes to either raze and rebuild or remodel and improve the existing carwash-garage.
Frew addressed the hearing board which included Roger Wetzel, Larry Umholtz, and Todd Bixler. He said he understood that a variance was needed, but he wasn’t sure on the township’s conforming and non-conforming use issue.
Since Frew raised those points to the zoning hearing board, the board took a brief executive session and then decided to continue the hearing until Frew’s questions could be looked into and answers sought.
“We are not zoning experts and we would like to check with our zoning solicitor Paul Datte on the points you raised,” said Umholtz.
Frew said is ideal plan would be to raze the existing buildings and build a brand new carwash facility at the same location. He said the operation would be no bigger or smaller then what is already there. He said the building would be constructed of brick and traffic would enter from Gap Street.
“We have been in business for 35 years and we have 10 other carwash operations in several areas such as Myerstown, and Schuylkill Haven,” said Frew.
He said the company has been in business for years and has been awarded recognition from Schuylkill County for taking dump properties, cleaning them up and making them nice again.
Frew said he tried to negotiate with John Harman back in 2007 to purchase the property, but he wouldn’t budge. Frew said John’s wife contacted him about two months ago to inquire if he was still interested in purchasing the property.
“If we can get all these issues worked out I would love to purchase the property,” said Frew.
Frew said he most likely wouldn’t be starting anything at the property anyway until spring.
“It’s not that we are against it,” said Wetzel. “We just want to make sure we are doing it the right way and that’s why we want to speak with our attorney.”
Although the zoning hearing board may not be against Frew’s plans, Forrest Herb, a neighbor across the alley from the property is dead set against it.
“I’ve been looking at that eyesore for 20 years and I don’t want to see another carwash there,” said Herb. “You will have big trucks coming in and washing chicken guts into the street and all. I’d just as soon see it all tore down and nothing go in its place.”
Frew assured Herb that there would be no trucks because a truck bay wouldn’t be offered at the building. He said if the variance is granted the building would be nice.
“I’m not against your company, I just don’t want to see another carwash,” said Herb.
The zoning hearing board said they will contact Datte and the hearing will be continued at a later date.
The zoning hearing board also heard testimony from Guy Julian of Grove Drive, Hegins. Julian applied for a variance to erect an accessory building/storage unit on a vacant lot located at 119 West Main Street, Valley View.
A variance is necessary because the lot size is not big enough for the proposed building Julian plans to erect.
After reviewing the application and hearing testimony from Julian, the board approved the variance.
Julian said the building can be shrunk to fit the lot size. He said it will be crafted in the same way as the existing storage buildings but the front will be more decorative since it will be closer to Route 25. He said all traffic will enter from Post Road and the proposal includes a good neighbor clause which will present traffic flowing onto the property owned by Charles and Heather Hall.

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