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Save Rite Auto on River Road skipped municipal zoning requirements, and some Newberry Township residents want to know why it was allowed.

The used car lot and service center business' owners were sent a warning letter in May that directed them to provide the township with a plan for addressing zoning ordinance concerns, township solicitor Andrew Miller said at the supervisors June meeting.  

Miller relayed the message that the proprietors were making changes. 

The last zoning approval for the property was in 1988, the township's code enforcement officer wrote in the warning letter. The prior owner of the property applied for a variance in 1993 to expand the use, which was denied, according to the letter.

The property’s use has “expanded considerably” since 1988 — without zoning approval — the letter noted. Structures have been built, lighting added, parking spots increased, business hours extended, services added and the scope of vehicle sales expanded, the letter explained.

“There is no record of zoning approval or land development approval for any of these expanded activities,” the letter reported.

Save Rite Auto owners were given a building permit and occupancy permit recently for new structures built on the property, however those permits did not “constitute zoning approval for any expanded use of the property or land development approval for the development of the property,” the letter continued.

The update Save Rite Auto supplied the township mentioned their intent to “purchase a number of trees,” Miller relayed.

“I think 20 trees, he indicated, and a split-rail fence, to install as a buffer and screening between properties,” he said. “I don’t know what the progress is with that, if any of that started yet, but he indicated they are in the process of doing that.”

“They also indicated that they would be taking steps to shield and direct any lighting from any neighboring properties there," Miller said. "Those were the main things updated from the last letter, the correspondence that the township got.”

The township dropped the ball, resident Mike Haugh has been telling supervisors for nearly a year. He said that he and a handful of his neighbors think it’s unfair that not only have other businesses and churches had to comply with zoning ordinances, but they each also have to create a stormwater management plan.

“There’s been no stormwater management plan, there’s been no land development plans, which is mandatory,” Haugh said.  

Save Rite Auto, he said, seemed to have received a free pass.

Throughout the past 10 months, Haugh explained, he’s told supervisors what the neighbors have experienced: seeing tires lying around, smelling trash burned, hearing work conducted at all hours of the day, and breathing in paint booth fumes.

Vice Chairman David Cantrell addressed the matter at the supervisors' May meeting. He said it has not “fallen on deaf ears.”

“We’re making sure we’re looking at it from everyone’s viewpoint of rights,” Cantrell said.

Haugh said at that time his patience is wearing thin.

“I’m 64 years old. My time on this Earth is limited,” Haugh told supervisors. “I have neighbors that have children ... that have to deal with this, who are going to be there a lot longer than I am.”

Tom Reed, a Save Rite Auto owner, said he had no comment and his attorney is handling the matter. Reed's attorney, John Ogden, was unable to be reached by phone. 

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