A local manufacturer will be investing in a new state of the art facility in Smithfield Township.
Story by Garrison Crow, Daily News Staff Writer
N.E. Reihart and Sons Inc. will be the next business to become part of Shaner Drive in Smithfield Township.
The machine shop and fabrication facility’s representative, Jack Reihart, was present at the Jan. 16 meeting of the Huntingdon County Planning Commission to listen to a review of the proposed plans for construction on the new site.
Reihart noted the shop’s move will keep the business in Smithfield Township, but will remove it from a congested residential area.
Engineers from the Herbert, Rowland and Grubic engineering firm, representing the Reiharts, were also in attendance to provide information on the proposal.
County planning director Mark Colussy led the review and put the history of the parcel being discussed in context.
“The land is in Smithfield Township. The property that Reiharts and Sons are equitable owners of, currently still held by Shaner Development Co., was previously owned by an organization set up by the State Correctional Institution to develop that property. That being said, there has already been a major subdivision of the property in the area,” Colussy noted.
The other fruits of this major subdivision of land formerly held by the prison are the Smithfield Towne Center, where Walmart and adjacent shops are located, and the Fairfield Inn along Route 26.
Reihart’s new facility, to be built on Lot 3 off of Shaner Drive near the water retention pond, will allow the business to expand and replace its current operation.
“The proposal is to build a 52,400-square-foot light industrial facility,” Colussy said.
Reihart explained the facility will replace the current one on Juniata Avenue.
“We need more space and we’re going to move the existing operations. We are going to retain ownership and maintain what we have now, but we’ll probably just use it for storage or maybe rent some of it out,” said Reihart.
Following the planning commission meeting, Reihart pointed out some of the conditions that make the move a good idea.
“We’ve grown out of the space we currently have,” Reihart pointed out. “It’s not zoned properly for us to be able to expand where we are. We needed to bulge some so we could gain, and that made us decide to move the facility.”
He also pointed out a few advantages the land selected would offer the business in its endeavor to grow operations. Most of the advantages center on the new location’s proximity to the road and its distance from residential areas.
“The number one reason for the choice was that it has been zoned correctly,” Reihart said. “The number two reason is that it is pad-ready land, which means all the facilities and utilities you need are there. We feel the location is ideal because its on the corner of routes 22 and 26.”
The meeting centered around a draft of a letter that was to be sent to Smithfield Township offering comments and concerns about the proposed light industrial complex. Smithfield Township is the sole governing body that can actually approve or disapprove the project once all legal hurdles have been surmounted.
The introduction in the letter made clear its intent:
“The planning commission offers the following comments for your consideration. They are based on a ‘desktop’ review of the proposal, county and municipal plans and ordinances and applicable state laws. No field view was made of the sight. The comments are not intended to replace your own review or to offer either legal or engineering advice.”
Some of the issues raised in the draft were:
Satisfactory financial security should be appropriated for this development to ensure sidewalks, storm water controls and road modifications meet the requirements of the township and the specifications dictated on the plan set.
There appears to be a need for landscaping along both Raystown Road and Commercial Parkway in conformance with the subdivision ordinance. Planted screens or buffers need to be placed around the borders of the site in accordance with the site design standards.
Sidewalks have been proposed along Shaner Drive and from the off-street parking areas to the proposed building entrances. It is recommended a pedestrian walkway be provided around the perimeter of the site to allow a connection to the Old Crow Wetland Area and to provide an amenity to occupants of the commercial park.
The engineers from HRG answered some of the concerns represented in the draft of the recommendation letter.
Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) was instrumental in clearing the way for the new facility to begin construction in the development. In partnership with Shaner Development, HCBI representatives would like to see the area develop into a business park that caters to a diverse range of commercial ventures.
“We are thrilled to be a part of Jack’s project and to assist him in growing his business. It’s key businesses like his that make the Huntingdon County economy stronger. He’s been rooted in Huntingdon County, he’s staying in Huntingdon County and the jobs will be staying in Huntingdon County,” said HCBI director Amy Wise.
Reihart’s machine shop has been in business in Smithfield for over 65 years. It was founded by Newton Edgar Reihart in the early 1940s and continued by his sons. N.E. Reihart and Sons, Inc. is now operated by the founder’s grandsons, Jack and Rob.
Both Wise and Reihart expect jobs to be added to the area as construction begins on the new facility. They also expect jobs to be added in the expanded machine shop when the enterprise is finally under way.
“We are very happy we could find a location here and stay in Smithfield Township, and we are very thankful for the assistance that Smithfield Township and other local people have given us to be able to make this move,” said Reihart.
Garrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.