EAST CHICAGO | The City Council has delayed a decision on whether to grant a variance that would allow a restaurant to open at 4901 Alexander Ave.
A Subway restaurant and America's Coffee and Donuts Ice Cream Parlor are proposed for the vacant building, which is currently zoned as a residential property.
City Planner Richard Morrisroe said a laundromat once operated at the location.
The city's Board of Zoning Appeals approved the petition for use variance by a 3-0 vote, he said.
At-large Councilwoman Benita White-Arnold said she lives near the property and is concerned about development in the area.
"It's a food desert," White-Arnold said. "We definitely need some establishments there in regards to food."
Third District Councilman Robert Battle, in whose district the proposed business would operate, suggested it might be a better idea to allow just a Subway at the location.
A coffee and doughnut shop already operates two blocks away from the site and such an establishment could lead to loitering, he said.
"You've got to consider, that's a high crime area," Battle said.
At-large Councilwoman Myrna Maldonado asked Morrisroe how the proposed business would fit into the overall economic plan for the area.
Morrisroe said he is unaware of any specific plan, but acknowledged there is a lot of vacant property there now.
"There had been hopes to set up a supermarket further down on that block, however, that, about three, four years ago, as the economy began to tank, that also fell through," Morrisroe said.
White-Arnold said the business would help spur economic development in the neighborhood, but she suggested a committee meeting to allow time for the council to speak with the party looking to open the coffee and doughnut shop.
The council voted 7-0 to send the matter to a committee meeting, which will take place Monday. At-large Councilman Juda Parks and 4th District Councilwoman Christine Vasquez were not present for the vote.