The borough's efforts to keep a body shop in the heart of the borough from expanding were thwarted in court.Common Pleas Judge Robert J. Shenkin ruled Dec. 28 that the zoning hearing board erred by not allowing William Hendricks to raise the roof of his body shop at 33-35 West Lancaster Ave. by two to three feet.
"I'm happy that they ruled in my favor," Hendricks said Thursday. "As soon as I get the special exception, I'm going to apply for a building permit." Hendricks owns the corner lot at West Lancaster and
Manor avenues, including the two-story Creekside Antiques building, a one-story body shop and a small, one-story building that connects the two.
Hendricks leases the body shop to Zingani Collision. Since 2005, he has wanted a major expansion of the shop to accommodate Zingani's needs. But the borough has opposed it because auto body shops are no longer legal in the central business district. Since the body shop was there before the zoning was changed, it is a legal nonconforming use.
Council members have been split over the issue. At a June 2006 council meeting, Council President Anthony J. Madiro Jr. said he'd like to work with Hendricks if the project would help Main Street. Councilman Anthony Gazzerro said if there was going to be a body shop, then he didn't want people to smell paint or see wrecks as they drive by.
Gazzerro originally sold the property to Hendricks and holds the mortgage. He said while he has participated in discussions about the property, he did not believe he had voted on anything regarding the property. Former councilman Tom Roderer said he wasn't opposed to the body shop. Councilman Jamie Bruton was opposed to the body shop expansion, maintaining that it would not help the revitalization of the borough.
Unable to get approval for the large expansion, Hendricks decided he would apply for a much smaller expansion. Specifically, he requested a building permit to raise the roof of the body shop by two to three feet in order to put in a paint booth. While the borough's code enforcement officer initially granted a permit for the expansion, he later changed his mind and said Hendricks would have to get a special exception.