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