SELINSGROVE — A 2 1/2-hour Monroe Township Zoning Hearing ended Monday night with the board denying a variance request to allow Gunzey’s to sell sausage sandwiches from a trailer in front of Lowe’s Home Improvement on Routes 11-15.
“We’re disappointed. This is the first time in our lives that somebody hasn’t wanted (our business),” said Tris West, co-owner of Gunzey’s, the Lewisburg company established by his grandparents 51 years ago.
Gunzey’s has begun branching out from local fairs and carnivals and recently began operating an 8-foot by 18-foot food trailer at Lowes in State College. Another will open in Lock Haven later this month.
But West said the Monroe Township store was where the family really wants to be and they will appeal the decision to the Snyder County Court of Common Pleas.
The township denied Gunzey’s a permit to operate at Lowes because it violates the ordinance that allows non-attached accessory structures only on the side or rear yard of a primary structure and does not allow more than one principle use on a lot.
A similar food truck operated by Dominick’s at the Monroe Township store for about a decade was allowed as a special exception under the former ordinance, zoning officer Rick Bailey testified.
West’s attorney, William Carlucci, of Williamsport, argued that the food trailer is a permitted use in the commercial district and is not a second principle use, but an accessory use to the large store.
Lowes manager Dennis Shaffer said the company has similar food trucks at many of its stores and is looking to add one at every store in the country.
“It helps promote business and is a convenience for our customers,” he testified.
Asked by township solicitor Charles Axe whether Lowes lost business when Dominick’s left, Shaffer, who was unsure.
Zoning hearing board member Shoba Kumar questioned the safety of operating a food truck outside the store with cars nearby jockeying for parking spaces.
Engineer Lake Randall testified that parking the food truck in the front of the store near the loading area is safest.
People “have an expectation of the traffic pattern” there, said Randall. “It would be less safe if it were put on the side or rear of the building.”
Following 2 1/2 hours of testimony, board members Kumar, chairman Steven Rauch and Harvey Kramer met behind closed doors for 10 minutes before voting unanimously in public to deny the variance because it violated the township ordinance to not permit more than one principle use on a single lot.