Junkyard owner may face permitting hurdle

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By Joe Moskowitz
Fleischmanns businessman William Hrazanek’s plans to start operating a business on newly acquired property just outside the Village of Margaretville may run unto a major roadblock, namely the Town of Middletown Planning Board.

Hrazanek recently told the News that he was shutting down his controversial Fleischmanns VW Parts auto salvage and repair business. On Saturday, July 13 Hrazanek’s VWP Holdings, Inc. purchased the former Ingram Auto Body shop on Route 30 outside of Margaretville in the county’s tax sale. VWP Holdings paid Delaware County $35,000 for the body shop and an adjacent house.

No longer qualifies
But Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis says it isn’t a body shop anymore. He says it hasn’t been used as one for more than a year. That means Hrazanek will have to apply to the planning board in order to get a special use permit. That can include a full environmental review, and even if he complies with all that the board asks, he can still be denied a permit if the board decides it doesn’t fit the character of the community.

There were issues with Ingram’s when it was owned by namesake Chuck Ingram. The planning board complained several times that too many cars were parked there and across Route 30 on state property, but there was little the town could do as Ingram had no special use permit. He didn’t need one because his business was “grandfathered.”

He began operating it as an auto repair shop before there was any zoning in Middletown and thus needed no permit. The “grandfather clause” would have remained in effect, except Ingram stopped doing business there more than a year ago when he relocated his business to Route 28 west of Delhi. People have been seen working on cars at the location, but Davis says those are tenants of the house next door, and they have been working on their own vehicles. They have not been running a business.

Plans towing service
Hrazanek says he plans to run a towing service, but Davis says that’s considered the same as a garage and Hrazanek would have to go through the entire planning board process to receive a use permit.

Two of Hrazanek’s properties in Fleischmanns and one just outside or Arkville were the subject of searches on July 9 by agents of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Dozens of DEC officers swarmed the properties and a DEC spokesman told the News that the search was related to “an ongoing criminal investigation.” No other information about the searches has since been released by the DEC.

Hrazanek’s two Fleischmanns properties are also in the process of foreclosure by mortgage holder Kenneth Pasternak.