Chesterton Tribune



Proposed Dollar General draws support and opposition

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Two highly articulate, strongly felt, but diametrically opposed opinions on a proposed new Dollar General on the old Lipinski Automotive property were offered to the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission at its meeting Thursday night.

The commission was not actually holding a public hearing on the matter, only a preliminary hearing. Planners did, however, give the two persons the opportunity to speak, then voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing at its next meeting, Thursday, Sept. 19, on two separate petitions related to the property, located at 1300 Broadway: one to re-zone the property from I-1 to B-3; the other to re-plat the property into two parcels, the eastern one of which would be the home of the Dollar General, the western one of which Tom Lipinski would retain ownership of and continue to lease to an automotive repair/towing business.

Ann Macker, who lives about a block away from the proposed Dollar General, opened the meeting by expressing her “concern for the physical, mental, and economic well-being of the community” should the Dollar General be developed on the property. Indiana ranks 38th in the country in the overall health of its residents, Macker said, with high rates of obesity and infant mortality especially in the low-income demographic, precisely the demographic which dollar stores specifically target with their “low-cost, low-nutrition” products.

“We already have a Dairy Queen on Broadway, a couple of pizza parlors, a smoke shop, and bars in that neighborhood,” Macker noted. “And all parents are trying to do is raise healthy children. We really need to think about the long-term consequences” of another dollar store in Chesterton, two of which are already located “within a 1.8-mile radius” of the proposed location.

Dollars stores “use deceptive pricing, deceptive packaging, and low costs which aren’t so low in the long-term,” Macker said.

And they’re “choking out locally owned businesses,” Macker added. “Communities are losing their individuality and uniqueness.”

Marti Pizzini, on the other hand, who lives about two blocks away from the proposed Dollar General, spoke of the genuine value of dollar stores to a different demographic: the one which doesn’t have easy access or transportation to stores which sell needed household items. “When the Kmart closed, I talked to a woman who was weeping because she had no place to shop,” Pizzini said.

Pizzini herself has taken to shopping at the dollar store in Porter, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Waverly Road, as it’s “the only local place where you can buy things like a toilet brush.”

And though Pizzini was happy to acknowledge her left-wing politics, she told planners that it’s their “job to make sure things are compatible with neighborhoods and add to the community. Income distribution and health are not something that dollar stores can help or not help but they can help people get the little things they need locally.”

Pizzini did voice the hope that--since the property in question is fairly heavily wooded on all four sides--the developers of the Dollar General will see their way clear to talking to the Tree Board, “to see if there’s anything worth saving there.”

Planners thanked Macker and Pizzini for their comments, then invited attorney Greg Babcock to speak on behalf of Lipinski. Babcock said that in his view the 9,100-square foot Dollar General “is an in-fill activity, a way to enhance a little over half of that property.” He also observed that the second petition, the one for the re-platting, is entirely contingent on the success of the first, the one for the re-zone, and added that there would be no need to approach the Board of Zoning Appeals for any kind of relief, either for signage or parking.

“A lot of B-3 uses are allowed in I-1,” Babcock also said, “so there’s no real incompatibility.”

Planner Jim Kowalski wondered about that. “Having a Dollar General next to a towing service, to me that doesn’t seem too compatible,” he suggested.

“That’s a business decision,” Babcock replied.

Would there even be room on Broadway--a fairly narrow street for a thoroughfare--for semis to turn into the property to make deliveries to the rear of the Dollar General? Kowalski wanted to know.

Mike Young of Falk Engineering fielded that one. There is room, he said. Semis will turn into the property, then back up.

Following the brief discussion, planners voted to hold a public hearing on the two petitions at their September meeting.


Posted 8/19/2019




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