The Lake County Council on Tuesday rejected a zoning petition that would have allowed a Dollar General store to be built just outside the St. John town limits, overruling a previous decision from the county plan commission.
In a unanimous vote, the council rejected a zoning change request from DG Partners LLC that asked to rezone a 3-acre parcel on the 15100 block of W. 101st Avenue in Hanover Township.
The parcel, which sits about a half mile east of State Line Road, is currently zoned for residential units, but the petitioner asked for a change to neighborhood business use. Plan commissioners originally approved the request in February, sending the matter to the council for a final determination.
But the council approved a motion to deny DG Partners’ request at the urging of Councilman Christian Jorgensen, R-St. John, who cited potential negative effects from the construction of a Dollar General at the proposed location.
“We as legislators have a much broader scope of review (than the plan commission),” he said, calling for “due consideration” for St. John’s development needs.
The construction of a Dollar General so close to St. John would leave the “market saturated,” because there is already a Dollar Tree store in the city, Jorgensen contended. He also claimed a retail store at the proposed location would exacerbate already heavy traffic on the 101st Avenue corridor heading toward Ill. 394, a popular commuter route.
As a result, Jorgensen argued, putting a Dollar General would have “no benefit” to the property values in the immediate area.
In other business, lawmakers weighed options on how to prod county department heads into attending council meetings when their offices have items on the agenda.
Elected officers often fail to appear at council meetings even if council members are voting on new line items or budget transfers for their departments, according to Councilman Charlie Brown, D-Gary.
“I don’t think we should let them not live up to their obligation to defend (what they are asking for),” Brown said.
While the council as a whole agreed to press department heads on the issue, the lawmakers diverged on how best to go about it. Council president Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, suggested the council could compel attendance by exercising its option to deny requests from absent department heads, while Jorgensen advocated deferring agenda items until office bosses appeared before the council.
Ultimately, the council adopted a motion authorizing Brown and Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, to draft a letter asking department heads to more regularly attend council meetings.
The language of the final letter would be subject to input from the other council members, Bilski said.