YORK, Maine — Scott and Arthur Berger have lost their appeal to add the sale of vintage and electric automobiles to Berger’s Bike Shop in the center of York Village.
The building at 214 York St. has long sold cars, according to Arthur Berger, who said on Wednesday he sold automobiles there for 30 years.
His son, Scott Berger, told the Board of Appeals on March 26, “We ran it with auto sales and repair until 1999. We still run a small auto repair [shop] in the back. I want to do small-scale classic cars and electric cars.”
Scott Berger wants to keep the bike business and sell electric and vintage cars indoors, he said. The number of vehicles in the shop would be limited, he said. The business would give people a reason to stop and walk around downtown, he said.
A York Village Business Association formed a number of years ago to get people to shop downtown, and a York Village Study Committee has been looking at ways to improve traffic, parking, crosswalks and sidewalks to make the area safer and more appealing.
“I think it would be a great little addition to the village,” Berger said.
He is also looking at diversifying the bike business. “I’ve been in business at the bike shop for 30 years,” he told the Board of Appeals. “Each year, there’s less and less activity, we’re struggling to stay alive. … I need approval so I can go to the state and become an [auto] dealer.”
Code Enforcement Officer Amber Harrison, who denied Berger the use permit, said at the March 26 meeting that as much as she thinks the business is a good idea for the community, the ordinance prohibits auto sales in the area.
Board of Appeals members also expressed reluctance to deny the Bergers’ appeal. They did so, in a 3-2 decision, with Michael Swant, Britton Garon and Joe Carr voting in favor of the motion to deny based on the ordinance having no listing for auto sales as an allowed use. Members John Kraus and Robert Lascelles voted against.
Board members, and Harrison, hinted there could be a way for the business to open while adhering to the ordinance. Neither Harrison, nor Scott Berger, would comment on the appeals case this week.
The building, known as the “Berger building,” began as a blacksmith shop, Arthur Berger said. It burned, was rebuilt in 1904, and has been used for auto repair since 1908, according to information given to the Board of Appeals.
Arthur Berger said auto sales began there with a Chevy dealership. He took it over in the mid-1960s.
“I had seven mechanics,” he said. “I sold used cars, garden tractors and snowblowers.”