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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Gas pains

The City Council voted 6-2, with one abstaining, against rezoning that would allow a Lassus Brothers gas station and convenience store at the corner of Bass and Hillegas roads. I'm more in agreement with the position of Councilwoman Karen Goldner than I am with that of Councilman Tom Smith:

Goldner, who favored the rezoning, said that some type of commercial development is inevitable at the intersection. By not allowing the rezoning of 1.7 acres of the parcel, the city is almost taking the land from Lassus, because, she explained, “I don't see this property as being useful for almost anything else.”

Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, said he voted against the rezoning request because his 10 years of serving on the city plan commission led him to believe it's important to support the plan commission, its members and planning staff.

Surely it's important to support the planners only when they're right; those who given carte blanche are less likely to be as thoroughly thoughtful as they should be. And disapproving the rezoning doesn't "almost" take the land; it does take it. If the property isn't "useful for almost anything else," Lassus now has property with all the benefit removed from it. The Journal Gazette's story notes that "many of the council members opposed the project despite their belief that the area is ripe for development."

Didier said the area definitely will develop commercially but that this wasn't the project to start that conversion. The city staff recommended waiting for a larger commercial development that would be more comprehensive and prevent piecemeal stores, each with its own curb cuts to either Bass or Hillegas.

Why is it the city's job -- even if it had the expertise -- to decide there should be a "comprehensive" development instead of "piecemeal stores"? If an area is "ripe for development," then get out of the way and let it be developed, especially if there's a willing company with a good record of running exactly the kind of business that would be logical for the area (25 Lassus gas stations and convenience stores in northeast Indiana). That would be real economic development.