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Save Rite Auto neighbors appeal, ask judge to stop auto shop's expanded operation

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Save Rite Auto on River Road in Newberry Township
Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Three neighbors who live near Save Rite Auto Sales and Service in Newberry Township have asked a judge to reverse a 2018 decision by the township's zoning hearing board that granted relief to the auto repair business.

Michael Haugh, Chadd Ettline and Anthony Balek each live in the 300 block of River Road.

Save Rite Auto, owned by Thomas Reed, is at 275 River Road.

The neighbors filed their appeal Dec. 26, 2018, at the York County Prothonotary's Office. After nearly a year of legal filings, the lawsuit was assigned to Common Pleas Judge Todd R. Platts for review.

Haugh, Ettline and Balek contend that Reed's two expansions at the business in recent years were illegal and have made it difficult for them to enjoy their properties because of paint fumes, lights and noise from vehicles driving in and out of the auto shop.

Reed bought the property at 275 River Road in 2012 and later approached the township to ask about expanding the business.

The township's zoning officer issued building permits to Reed in 2014 to add on to the existing repair shop and in 2016 to build an auto body shop but never told him he would need to apply for a zoning variance or special exception.

After receiving complaints from neighbors, the township issued a violation notice to Reed on July 18, 2018, for not having the proper zoning allowances.

Reed appealed the violation, citing the fact that the township had issued building permits for both of his expansions.

So the zoning board held a hearing Sept. 28, 2018, at which the township admitted its former zoning officer had issued the building permits erroneously.

More:Save Rite Auto zoning dispute in Newberry Twp. still unsettled

The Newberry Township Municipal complex Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

In its Nov. 26, 2018, decision, the zoning hearing board ruled in Reed's favor.

The board found that Reed acted in good faith when he submitted his applications for building permits and that he believed he was meeting all requirements based on the instructions of the then-zoning officer.

"The Applicant did take sufficient efforts to investigate prior uses on the property and Zoning Ordinance requirements by contacting the proper officials who reasonably could be expected to be knowledgeable," the board stated in its opinion.

Reed testified at the hearing that he and his wife had invested more than $446,000 into the business based on those permits and that if the township were to revoke the permits and shut down the expanded services, the couple would lose everything.

According to the zoning board's written decision, the Reeds actually invested more than $490,000 in construction, equipment and mechanical improvements.

The zoning board found that because Reed had acted in good faith, had invested significant funds based on the township's issuance of permits and would not be able to recover his investment, Reed should be granted a variance and allowed to continue operating the expanded business.

The board did issue stipulations with its decision.

Reed is not allowed to build any new structures or expand any of the existing buildings, and the business' hours of operation are limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Reed must also comply with the balance of the township's zoning ordinance.

John M. Ogden, the attorney representing Reed, and Anthony T. Bowser, the attorney representing the three neighbors, did not respond to requests for comment.

Stanley J. Laskowski, solicitor for the Newberry Township Zoning Hearing Board, declined to comment, as did Newberry Township Supervisor Anthony Miller.

More:Save Rite Auto expanded business without Newberry Twp approval

More:Save Rite Auto disputes claims of noncompliance