BY DIANA NADER
Once upon a time, about a decade ago, there was a bustling strip mall in West Dearborn. Among the long-since-vacant venues was an Inca Computer Store. The empty building is set to be the future site for a Goodwill Store…possibly. The store opening is on hold pending approval from the City Planning Commission.
According to Janet Scheuher-Nalezty, Senior Planner for the City of Dearborn City Planning Commission, city zoning ordinances classify second hand stores as a special land use in a business seat district and as such must adhere to a very specific set of criteria. Another difference with this classification is that the surrounding public must be made aware of the store’s intention to build and given an opportunity to address any concerns they may have. This is why you’ve probably heard quite a bit more city-wide stirrings about this business opening than is typically the case.
Voting on the project by the City Planning Commission was at a stalemate at the January 9 meeting due to the absence of two commissioners. The vote was blocked 3-2 and tabled until the next meeting on February 13.
UPDATE (2/13/12): See the latest on this story here.
The voting process for the commission breaks down like this: you need a quorum of 5 votes to pass a motion, while a full commission consists of 9 people. We currently have 7, 2 of whom were absent.
“I understand that we might have two new commissioners appointed to the planning commission. We are hoping for at least 7 so that we can vote one way or the other,” Said Scheuher-Nalezty of the February meeting.
If the motion is passed at this month’s City Planning meeting, Goodwill would then have to get a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at their February 15 meeting due to their proximity to a school (Sacred Heart). City ordinance stipulates that a second hand store must not be within 700 feet of a school.
For their part, the Goodwill store has taken steps to ensure that they are in compliance with all of the city ordinances. They needed to get 97 signatures of the approval from residents and ended up with 117. They also received a letter of support from Pastor Petroske of Sacred Heart. Representatives from the chain are doing their best to distance themselves from the negative perception people may have of resale stores.
They have encouraged Dearborn residents to check out the Canton store and have gone as far as distributing coupons in the area. “It’s an educational process. We are offering re-purposed items to upscale communities. We would stimulate the economy by bringing in jobs and traffic to neighboring businesses,” said Jeff Ukrainec, Director of Donations for Goodwill.
To learn more about Dearborn city ordinances or to get a full listing of public meetings visit the City of Dearborn online at cityofdearborn.org.