Frew gets nod for new car wash

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

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Rebecca Zemencik/Citizen-Standard Photo The old Harman Car Wash will be razed this spring to make way for a new car wash to be constructed by Hembiere Group LLC. Hegins Twp. Zoning Hearing Board granted a variance last Wednesday evening for the property.

VALLEY VIEW — A new car wash will be coming to the area. Hegins Township Zoning Hearing Board gave Dave Frew of Hembiere Group LLC, the nod to go ahead with his plans for the former Harman car wash property with some conditions.
The zoning hearing board heard Frew’s plans on December 28 but had some legal concerns and decided to continue the hearing. After questions and deliberation last Wednesday evening, the zoning hearing board comprised of Larry Umholtz, Roger Wetzel and Todd Bixler, voted unanimously for Frew to move ahead with his plans.
The property located at 1171 West Main Street, the intersection of Route 25 and Gap Street, Valley View, currently houses the old car wash, garage and apartments that were operated by the late John Harman. Frew and his brother, Mark Frew plan to raze the structure and build a new facility that will not be any bigger than the current building. He said there will be no truck bay nor will there be apartments. He said it will be a one-story building.
William C. Reiley, Pottsville, who was sitting in for the zoning hearing board’s attorney Paul Datte, who was unable to attend the meeting, listed the conditions clearly to Frew who agreed. They are: securing a highway occupancy permit, if needed, from the Department of Transportation; checking to see if a permit for discharge was needed from DEP; no lighting would be installed that would cause a glare; establishing a preferred entrance and exit to the property and creating a buffer zone with trees or fencing to the south side of the property in which neighboring property owner Forest Herb would be happy.
Forest Herb attended the meeting on December 28 and voiced his concerns that there would be trucks dumping chicken guts and waste at the facility. He was told there would be no bay for large trucks.
According to Zoning Officer Al Swab, who said he spoke with Forest Herb earlier in the day before the hearing, Herb is fine with the proposal as long as their is no truck bay and a fence or trees or something is done to buffer the facility.
David Buffington of Sacramento, attended the hearing, but he was not in favor of the carwash. He was concerned that water runoff could possibly flood the baseball field located in the park across the street from the proposed site. He was also concerned how the car wash could impact the potential sewer project that is being decided.
“If this car wash is allowed, how will that affect my sewer rate,” asked Buffington. “Because he will be dumping more water into the system, will that make my fees higher?”
Frew explained that they recycle their water and he said that when the sewer project goes through, the more customers on the system, the cheaper it is for everyone else.
Hegins Township Supervisor Bruce Klouser attended the meeting and said he thought it would be a good idea to let Mr. Frew go through with his plans. He also said it would be nice if we could get a couple restaurants in the area too.
The zoning hearing board said the main reason for the hearing was to determine if this was a permitted use. Even though a car wash was there before, it had been abandoned for so long that it reverted back and thus deemed it a non-conforming use.
Frew showed the zoning hearing board that although they were saying it was no longer a permitted use, the Harman’s to date, were still paying property taxes as a commercial property with a car wash and marketed it for sale as a car wash.
Solicitor Reiley made the board aware of the Latrobe Speedway vs. Unity Township Zoning Hearing Board. He said it was a similiar case that went all the way to the PA Supreme Court and held.
Frew said he plans to break ground in the spring and plans to put in four wash bays – three self-serve and one automatic. He said there would be vending machines where air fresheners, tire cleaners, etc. could be purchased.
He said the car wash will be open 24-hours a day, which he said has never posed a problem in any of the other communities where they currently have facilities. He said no food or soda vending machines will be there so there will be no reason for someone to ‘hang-out’ at the property.
Frew invited the zoning hearing board and all who were in attendance to visit one of his other operations in Pine Grove, and Minersville locally to see what his operations look like. He also owns facilities in Schuylkill, Dauphin and Lancaster counties.

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