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Business back open after zoning dispute

A Springfield Twp. auto dealership is open again after resolving a dispute with local zoning officials that had stretched on for close to a year.

Tom’s Toys, Inc., 925 Upper Valley Pike, reopened this month after its owner recently reached a compromise that was approved by the Springfield Twp. Board of Trustees. The proposal allowed about 7 acres of the 14-acre property to be rezoned as a business district, while the rest remained a residential district.

“At the end, I think everybody compromised a little bit and everybody was happy with the result,” said Tom Owens, owner of the business.

Now that the new site is open again, Owens said he will close a separate lot at EZ Pay Auto Sales, 625 E. Main St. Both locations sell used trucks, sport utility vehicles and recreational vehicles.

Tom’s Toys voluntarily closed last summer after the business’ owners were told they were not allowed to sell vehicles on the property until the site was rezoned from a residential district to a business district. Previous attempts to rezone the 14.3-acre property were also turned down because the business was located in a floodplain, said Jeff Briner, Springfield Twp. administrator. Tom’s Toys is located on the former Forest Hills Par 3 golf course.

The property is owned by Pat Dinh, who purchased the land in February of last year for about $90,000.

Under the compromise, Briner said Owens’ office building is on a section of the parcel that is above the floodplain. The vehicles on the lot are allowed to be stored on a portion of the property that lies within the floodplain because they can be moved if necessary.

The lower portion of the parcel doesn’t flood often, Briner said. But when it does, the county has had to close off the area a handful of times in the past 10 years or so.

“I think it was a good compromise,” Briner said. “The area that’s not going to be used is primarily in the floodplain.”

The changes to the initial zoning proposal served both the township and the business, said Jim Peifer, an attorney representing the business in the case.

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