Proposed dollar store, access road rile residents
For the most part, the residents of Lexington Glen on Delaware's west side are thrilled with the idea of a fire station at 1320 W. Central Ave., adjacent to their subdivision.
And for the most part, those same residents are vehemently opposed to a Family Dollar store proposed for the lot west of that fire station.
Several residents took their complaints to Delaware City Council members during their meeting Monday, June 25.
"I feel like we're getting a bait and switch, for lack of a better phrase," said Kimberly Jones, who lives nearby on Bridgeport Way. "It's like you're telling us, 'You want the fire station? Then you're going to get a strip mall and all the traffic that comes with it.'"
At issue is a service road proposed by the city at the north end of the proposed Fire Station No. 303 to accommodate the comings and goings of emergency vehicles. While it is necessary for the routine operations of the station, the road also will provide access to the proposed strip mall immediately west of the fire station, city leaders said.
City Planner David Efland tried to separate the two projects by reminding residents of Lexington Glen and the other neighborhoods near Fire Station No. 303 that the commercial lot to the west "has been zoned B1 Commercial since the 1980s and is suggested commercial in the city's master plan. This property could have been developed for commercial use regardless of whether the city ever decided to locate the fire station there."
Carl Rowoldt, also of Bridgeport Way, said he couldn't see why the city should subsidize a road that would be used more by a private business owner than by the fire station itself.
"That road doesn't benefit the citizens of Delaware, it benefits the owner of the property to the west of the fire station," he said.
Rowoldt questioned whether City Council was receptive to the needs and concerns of the residents.
"It seems to me as if we're having these hearings just so you can tick off that, yes, you did this," he said, "but I don't think you're listening to the input of the people most affected by this madness. I'd like to see this whole thing tabled and worked on and the city come back with another proposal."
Efland disagreed that the city wasn't listening.
"That's why we're here tonight," he said. "That's why we're having this public hearing."
The Family Dollar is proposed as the anchor store for a 15,200-square-foot development on 2.3 acres of the 8.3-acre site. Most of the rest of the site is wooded and a ravine runs through it, making it unsuitable for further development, Efland said.
Developer Ron Sabatino said the service road to his property was "a blessing. Heaven knows I've had to build roads like that for the city in almost all the other projects I've done. It's nice to have the city pay for a change."
Sabatino did promise the Family Dollar on West Central Avenue wouldn't be typical.
"I've seen Family Dollars in strip malls and they can be ugly metal buildings," he said, "but I guarantee you this Family Dollar will be the nicest one you've ever seen -- the nicest one in central Ohio by far."
Council President Gary Milner said he empathized with the residents.
"This is the hardest sort of thing we do as a city council, to have concerned citizens come before us. It can get emotional," he said. "I always try to put myself in your shoes, and I would like to thank you for coming out and for being so patient with us."