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Variances Denied for Chain Store in Bainbridge

Conoy Township Supervisors Chairman Stephen L. Mohr Sr. said plans to build a Dollar General store on the site of a former gas station and convenience store in Bainbridge are not going forward because the Zoning Hearing Board would not grant the variances sought to build the store.

At the July meeting of township supervisors, developers described the variances sought for the project on the site of the former Uni-Mart store at River Road and Chestnut Street – a reduction in the number of parking spaces from the 51 normally required to 31, noting that stores in the chain usually have only five or six customer vehicles parked at a time. Also, the store was planned to be 9,100 square feet and a variance was required for more than 3,600 square feet.

Mohr represented the township at the zoning board meeting on July 25. He said at the township supervisors meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8, that although it was not related to the variances sought, he was especially bothered by the refusal to display an American flag on the store property.

“They refused 100 percent to put an American flag on their property. … They offered us money to put American flags somewhere else, but not on their property,” Mohr said.

Kendra Mohr, who chairs the township’s Zoning Hearing Board, contacted the Advocate later to emphasize that the flag request was unrelated to the board’s decision.

“The township’s flag request had nothing to do with the ZHB’s decision,” she wrote in an email message. “We made the decision based on the criteria set forth in the zoning ordinance. We heard nearly two hours of testimony and evidence from the applicant, the township, and township residents who were in attendance at the hearing. At the end of the hearing, it was clear that the applicant had not met the criteria in the zoning ordinance.”

She also noted that the applicant was not Dollar General, but a real estate investment company that leases space to the retail chain.

The Advocate contacted Dollar General’s public relations office after the meeting for comment, but got no immediate response.

Also at the township meeting, supervisors voted 4-1 to release all but $500,000 of the $5.36 million in bond money put up by Perdue Agribusiness for its soybean-processing plant. Supervisor Gina Mariani was the only one to vote against the motion; she said she was concerned the $500,000 might not be enough to pay for the remaining items that the township engineer said had to be completed. Solicitor Matthew J. Crème Jr. noted that the company had met all its obligations in the past and even if it were to renege on its obligations now, the township would have the power to put a lien on the property. “On a project of this size, to have come remaining items is not unusual,” Crème said.

Emergency Management Coordinator Wayne Southard told supervisors that although there would be no more drills for an emergency at Three Mile Island because the nuclear plant is closing, there is still a need to be prepared for other emergencies. He said he is working on a new risk management plan.

“What we had was essentially nothing,” Southard said.

Supervisors agreed to advertise a proposed ordinance that would allow the township to enter into a new agreement with East Donegal Township and Marietta Borough for continuation of the regional police force serving the three municipalities.

Also, supervisors voted to opt out of allowing video gambling at truck stops. Although there are no truck stops in the township now, supervisors decided to pass a resolution opting out of video gambling as a precaution.

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