Will McDonough, an engineer for Corydon-based Paul Primavera and Associates, told the Huntingburg Council the developer he is working for has a purchase option from Dollar General ready to sign.
They were just waiting on the go-ahead from the council with a decision to rezone four residential lots at East First and Main streets as light commercial. After much discussion, the council unanimously agreed to rezone it for the new development.
The rezoning will allow Curt Rafferty, a developer from Bowling Green, to build a 9,100 square foot store in the four lots located on the southwest corner of the intersection. This store will be larger than the one on Huntingburg’s northside and carry more items including some groceries.
Rafferty and McDonough appeared at the plan commission meeting in September to request the zoning change and the commission had voted unanimously to forward its recommendation on to the council.
The council echoed some of the public’s concerns during Monday’s meeting. Those included concerns about the added traffic at that intersection, the removal of residences that appear to be in short supply in the area, how the new store would impact the other Dollar General store and Family Dollar as well as whether the developer researched any other commercial property in that area of town before deciding on this one.
As far as the other commercial properties that are available, McDonough told the council he reviewed one located further south and determined it was too small. He told the council the building’s footprint extended off the property.
Of the four homes that will be demolished for the construction, Councilman Glenn Kissling said the city would likely be called upon to deal with two of the homes due to their dilapidated condition. The other two are old as well.
McDonough told the council that his firm was seasoned at working with INDOT to ensure the traffic patterns in the area are safe. He added the turn lane on Main Street made the area easier to develop for this purpose.
McDonough also reiterated that the store had been approved by Dollar General to be placed in the community and he did not think the corporation anticipated any negative impact on the other store. In regards to Family Dollar and other businesses potentially impacted by the addition, he said that competition was good for the consumer.
Councilman Kerry Blessinger is a member of the plan commission. He showed some exasperation as he spoke about the public hearing in which only four or five people showed up to make their opinions public. “We had a public hearing and now that I am hearing this and I am looking back on that and I am kinda disappointed at the amount of people we had there to speak from our community,” he said. “There were maybe four or five of them and now I hear 25, 30 people have an opinion on it. That’s why we have the public hearing.”
During the meeting, the council even gave anyone in attendance a moment to comment on the rezoning, but no one stepped forward to do so and the comments were closed.
Councilman Jeff Bounds said he can see the potential for a ripple-effect on existing businesses but he felt the council was not in place to make decisions regarding the economic future of businesses based on new ones coming into the area. “The last thing I would want to see is a new Dollar General to go in and that cause the old Dollar General to go out or the Family Dollar to go out or a grocery store to go out,” Bounds said. “That’s the last thing we would want to promote. But it’s not our place to make those decisions. It’s not the American way. That’s not the role of the council.”
He added that the plan commission’s unanimous decision also played a part in his confidence in supporting the rezoning request.
Councilman Steve McPherron pointed out that the new store could be good for other nearby stores. “That’s why McDonald’s is located in front of Walmart,” he said.
Blessinger added that the location was in the economic corridor the city just created.
Bounds stated the council has an obligation to be open-armed to new businesses interested in the community.
With that, the motion was made by Blessinger and the rezoning was approved.