Plan commission OKs Amish grocery store
SOUTH BEND, Jan 15, 2013 (South Bend Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
An Amish couple is one step closer to opening a grocery store after today's Area Plan Commission meeting.
Commission members approved a favorable recommendation for a zone change for the project, which is at 67450 Beech Road in southern St. Joseph County. The zone change, which asks to move the property from agricultural district to business district, will go to the St. Joseph County Council for approval.
Bernard Feeney, local surveyor with Lang, Feeney and Associates, said property owners Wyman and Edna Hochstetler want to build a grocery store on the property to cater to the needs of the predominantly Amish community nearby. The grocery store would also have an attached warehouse for storage of goods.
"They want a small neighborhood grocery store targeting the Amish community," Feeney said. "It would primarily support a bulk grocery of necessities."
Staff recommendations initially asked for an unfavorable recommendation, according to commission Executive Director John Byorni.
"This is really a departure from our previous type of thinking," Byorni said. "This type of use will provide a necessity not only to the Amish community but to the farmers in the area so they don't have to drive long distances."
Commission members also approved a favorable recommendation for a Granger property aimed for a future in retail.
The property, at 13183 Indiana 33 in Granger, is currently zoned single family residential, according to the planning staff report. The favorable recommendation asks to zone the property as business district.
"The home there has been vacant for four years," Anthony Svatos said. Svatos owns the property through GFE Enterprises LLC.
The area near the property has seen substantial development in the past few years, according to area planner Christa Nayder. Other rezonings have occurred in the same region. Nearby businesses include Dollar General, Goodwill, two fast-food restaurants, McGann Hay Granger Chapel and Granger Family Eye Care, among others.
In other business, commission members chose new leadership for the commission in an executive session before the public hearings.
John Delee, who said he has served for more than nine years as president of the commission, said he wished to nominate a "younger person" to the position -- Karl King.
King was elected unanimously. King nominated Delee to serve as vice president. He was also elected unanimously. Appointments were also made to the executive and plat committees.
The next meeting of the Area Plan Commission is at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 19 on the fourth floor of County-City Building.
Staff writer Amanda Gray:
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