What an exciting month. We have been blown away by the support we have received from our customers- both long term and those of you who have just found us. We will keep saying it: you are what makes this place so special. Thank you for seeing the vision Juan and I had for Nowhere and bringing it to life in ways we never could have imagined. We see you, we thank you, and we promise to remain a safe and inclusive space that brings people together.
We spent months looking at expansion spaces last year. In November, the stars aligned and one of our realtors listed the property at 1115 Trexlertown Road. It was perfect for what we needed. It is zoned appropriately for what we are doing- Neighborhood Commercial. Our landlord is lovely and supportive of our business. Yesterday we accepted delivery of our brand new Giesen roaster and are ready to install and scale production. We've had excellent service from both Pitt Ohio and Pipeline Petroleum, who are excited to see our business grow.
Upper Macungie has other plans for us. We have asked kindly for someone from the township respond to us in any way this week and they have chosen to ignore us. Our last contact from them is was on Thursday of last week (today is Wednesday). It was my zoning contact punting us to a different employee who hasn't even acknowledged us. Hopefully posting here will get their attention.
Upper Macungie denied our Business Use and Occupancy permit for the Nowhere Roastery, citing a Zoning violation. They decided, without any questions or a single telephone conversation, that what we do is considered "food processing" - which are words I can't even find in their zoning code.
The property at 1115 is zoned Neighborhood Commercial. Under this zoning classification. There are several food service classifications listed as permissible by right, the most closely related being a bakery. Both are food service establishments whose primary activity is applying high heat to change the physical qualities of the food you are working with.
I want to reiterate: there was not a single clarifying question asked during this process. To appeal this decision we had to pay $800 and submit 9 paper copies of a several page. When I arrived at the Upper Macungie Zoning desk, I asked the employee if she would take a quick look to make sure I had everything.
She looked in my envelope and she asked me if I had my copy on a floppy disk. Yes, you read that correctly. I told her no, and asked if I could email the files instead and she told me she didn't think so but that would be up to someone else.
I showed her the email I had received requesting only 9 paper copies, no mention of a floppy disk. She reluctantly accepted my appeal.
When I emailed the completed application I asked if there was any way to speed up the process. The response didn't address our question but gave us a tentative zoning hearing for March 13. That is 51 days into their 60 allowed timeframe.
Upper Macungie Township, with no conversation, questions or discourse has cost Nowhere Coffee Co. $800 in cash and 60 days of time during a critical time in our business' growth without even the common courtesy to respond to an email.
Way to support small business, Upper Macungie. You may single handedly take down one of the Lehigh Valley's favorite coffee shops.