Wholesome Foods Inc. seeks special use permit

EDINBURG — The Planning Commission held a joint public meeting with Town Council on Tuesday to get public comments on a special use permit requested by Wholesome Foods.

Wholesome Foods lost its main auto shop in a January 2015 fire. Since April 2015, the company has been renting a building at 400 Picadilly St., the former headquarters of CE Thompsons and Sons Lumber.

Moving into the Picadilly Street building didn’t require a permit at the time because the move was  to be temporary until the new auto shop was completed. But Wholesome has decided that, even when its new building is ready, it would like to continue using the Picadilly building for potential overflow, making it a permanent occupancy. Because of that change, Mayor Daniel Harshman explained that the town’s zoning ordinance requires a special use permit.

Members of the public voiced some concerns at the meeting Tuesday, with residents wanting to make sure that Picadilly Street continues to be traveled in a safe manner, with everybody adhering to the stop sign at the end of the street.

After the public hearing, the Planning Commission met and discussed what its  recommendation to Town Council would be. Bill Boone, commission vice chairman, voiced his concerns over what he said was a lack of data from Wholesome Foods. Boone explained that he wanted to know just how much the Picadilly building would be used once Wholesome Foods’ new building was completed.

“Are we opening the door for a future traffic problem?” Boone asked. “We have to protect the community and the town of Edinburg. At this point in time, I can’t see where there’s any data to have in our pockets that say, ‘we can limit you to certain operations time, certain traffic time and truck time.’ After the new garage is built and they shift work roads, that can skyrocket and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

Operating time was brought up by the Planning Commission. The current shift hours for Wholesome Foods is from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Paul Blacet, a member of the commission, brought up a concern of noise levels later in the evening, once people get in from work and are trying to settle down for the night.

Nathan Pence, the general manager of Wholesome Foods, responded by telling the commission that once the new building is complete, which they are shooting for in the spring of 2018, he can see being able to eliminate the second shift, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., from the Picadilly building.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Richard Pence motioned for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to Town Council to grant Wholesome Foods a special use permit. The commission then voted 5-1 yes, with Boone voting no, to make the recommendation to Town Council.  Richard Pence is Nathan Pence’s uncle. Richard Pence alerted other commissioners to the relationship and asked if they wanted him to abstain from voting.  Other commissioners said abstaining was not necessary.

The Town Council will vote on the special use permit at its Aug. 8 meeting.