WARSAW — A petition to rezone 3 acres, located on the south side of Hatchery Road and along the east side of CR 850E, met resistance at the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission’s regular meeting Wednesday, June 1, from both the public and APC members.
Andrew Rossell, engineer and owner of AR Engineering, spoke on behalf of his client, Lake Wawasee Buyers LLC, which wants to place a general retail store — later disclosed by the planning commission and members of the public to be a Dollar General — on the property.
Rossell stated his client had looked at several properties on the south side of Lake Wawasee and the property at CR 850E and Hatchery Road was the only one to meet their needs. He noted the pole barns already located on the property would likely remain on site, serving as a residential buffer.
When asked about traffic, Rossell said, “Peak traffic would be about 12 vehicles per hour. It would be a low traffic generator compared to other commercial uses.”
The store would have about 30 parking spaces, with only one entrance off CR 850E. Rossell, when asked, stated six cars could be stacked from that entrance to the intersection with Hatchery. It was also noted plans are still in the conceptual phase and rezoning is the first and biggest hurdle.
Commissioner Charles Haffner quickly stated, “I cannot think of a possibly worse location they could come up with for a Dollar General.”
He noted the area has two subdivisions — Marineland Gardens and Bayshore Drive — and many residential homes. He pointed out Hatchery Road is already busy and dangerous due to its hilly terrain. He reiterated, “I can’t see one reason that it is a desirable location for what your selling.”
The rezoning received one letter of support from Kelly Real Estate, and the property’s current owner, Steve Yoder, also spoke at the meeting in favor of the rezoning.
“The traffic is not going away,” Yoder said, highlighting the amount of commercial use already along the Hatchery Road from boating companies to landscaping firms. “I’m for it.”
The commission received several letters requesting it not recommend the rezoning, voicing concerns it would potentially impact the environment, negatively affect an already dangerous section of road, leave an eyesore if the business fails, among other points.
Letters came from Heather Harwood with the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Marineland Gardens Community Association, Wawasee Property Owners Association, Bayshore Drive Association and from several area residents. Members of the public also turned out to personally voice concerns to the commission.
Marshall Minnick, who lives to the south of the property, said, “That intersection never looks peaceful like that (in reference to photos displayed at the meeting). There is a blind hill there where you pull out at your own risk.” He added, “Commercial zoning doesn’t fit on that corner.”
A couple of residents also expressed concerns about semi-trailer trucks and box truck traffic, to which Rossell said there would only be one semi per week with the rest of the supplies being delivered by box trucks. As for run-off, he noted state laws dictate strong standards, which would prevent discharge into the lake or wetlands.
Rossell also addressed concerns it would leave an eyesore, stating market analysis had been completed or else his client wouldn’t have chosen the location. He added his client would likely sign a 15-year to 20-year lease.
Still, the vocal public comments resonated with the area planning commission with its members speaking at length about potential safety concerns. Ultimately, the APC unanimously voted to not recommend the rezoning.
After the decision, Rossell stated the retail store would not be a destination, drawing more traffic; however, his client will begin looking at other locations.
The request to rezone will still be heard by Kosciusko County Commissioners at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, June 28.