Hammer and Wikan would like to build on to the back of the grocery store to make room for better loading and unloading, storage space, and for housing more bulk items. The expansion would add 50 feet to the back side of the store along Haugen Drive.
Hammer and Wikan CEO Larry Martin told the commission it would be a public improvement.
“We would like to kick the back room out of the grocery store and get us a better receiving area, and also more backroom storage, and could open us up for Costco products,” Martin said. “And I think it would be good for the community.”
Martin said it would be a whole new structure added to the store but it would all look like the same building with doors connecting them. Workers would access the new area from the existing road, driving around the back of the complex.
The business applied to the borough to purchase the property but before that can happen the borough must agree to re-zone the property as commercial. An ordinance to do that has one reading left to go before the borough assembly. There has been no opposition so far.
After it officially becomes commercial land then the borough assembly would decide to put the land up for sale. It could be put up for auction or be sold directly to a buyer. That would ultimately be decided by the borough assembly.
Hammer and Wikan doesn’t care which way the borough decides to go as long as it’s available for commercial use.
“We would like to see that property put up for sale, whether it’s to us individually or as an auction is fine too,” Martin said. “Down the road that’s the only way we could expand.”
Initially, the borough looked at two parcels of public property between the store and Haugen. The assembly decided to keep one of them undeveloped as open space for the time being while considering the other one for commercial.
Borough Planning Director, Liz Cabrera, told the commission that by selling the property as commercial through an auction, the borough would no longer have full say in what happens to the land.
“It could be purchased by Hammers but it could also be purchased by somebody else,” Cabrera said. “Or Hammers could purchase it and then resell it. So, understand that once it’s rezoned to commercial, it could be anything.”
She said that the group’s bottom line right now was to decide if selling the public land was in the community’s best interest.
“Basically, you’re looking at it in terms, is this something that the borough should keep because there’s some other value or other use we want or is it okay to sell this property?” said Cabrera.
In the end, the commission voted to recommend that the borough move forward with the sale. They included language to maintain both the public utility easement on the lot and the pedestrian trail or to re-route the trail if needed.
A final vote on rezoning the land is at the borough assembly’s next meeting November 23.