Last night was the second Zoning Hearing of the week for the proposed convenience store and gas pumps at East 11th and Fayette. The proposed development was originally intended to be a Wawa, but now it is a generic proposal without a specified tenant.
Picking up from Tuesday’s hearing, Tim Moore, owner of the property, continued to testify. The attorney for the developer continued to ask him question to establish a history of use at the property involving car sales and mechanic/body work. This involved reading invoices for various business transactions going back decades. After that the members of the Zoning Hearing Board were given the opportunity to ask questions of Moore. One member asked several questions in an attempt to clarify how much traffic was generated by the business, the hours of this traffic, how traffic entered and exited the property, etc. There were a few other question including if the Moore family had considered other uses of the property. The attorney for the opposition then had the opportunity to ask questions and that’s when the hearing began to be somewhat interesting. We took away that there were two main questions:
- The attorney asked a series of questions involving Harry Street and East 12th Avenue. The Moore’s have utilized these paper streets for decades, but no one can locate any paperwork allowing them to do so. According to the testimony, taxes were also not paid, or ever requested, for the use of the property making up those two streets. The proposal has changed since way back in 2010 to not include the unopened portion of Harry Street, but 12th Avenue is still included included as part of the proposal. Expect this issue to resurface.
- The attorney for the opposition also asked about how oil and other chemicals were disposed of throughout the years. Moore testified that since he took over the business in the 1970’s, they have disposed of these items based on the standards set by the federal government. He did not know how these items were disposed of in year’s before he took over. Based on what the attorney of the opposition stated, this line of questioning was meant to be utilized if hardship is used as a reason to support the proposed development. This means that if the developer states that the contamination would be too costly to clean-up for a residential development, the opposition could argue that it was a self-created hardship and not something that should be considered.
The most entertaining part of the night was when the attorney for the opposition asked somewhat insultingly if the solicitor for the Zoning Hearing Board wasn’t familiar with a case that he introduced as a precedent to argue that the Moore’s should have to reveal the financial compensation they are receiving from the developer. The glare from the solicitor of the Zoning Hearing Board was pretty strong and it was ruled that the two precedents involved the applicants, not the property owners. The developer is the applicant.
One item that has been discussed since the beginning of this whole issue was confirmed last night. Moore testified that the property was never formally for sale. It was never advertised or nor was a sign put up. He stated that he received various unsolicited offers from commercial real estate companies, but they would not reveal who the tenant would be. When one came to the table with Wawa, the family decided to explore it and that eventually led to a deal.
Moore also stated that he had hoped to conclude a sale that would bring maximum profit and the least amount of trouble. Lets hope they are getting the maximum profit, because this has been dragging on since October 2010.
We are hearing that the process will go into the fall. Yikes.