Representatives from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store once again went before members of the city council last night seeking approval to move forward with an expansion project.
The charitable organization, which operates the thrift store at 1604 Main St., says they are out of space to house donated items. Their plan is to construct a 60 x 80 foot storage facility on some adjacent property.
But first, city council members must approve a zoning change.
In May, local attorney Aaron Doll made the request to the city council to change three lots on the southwest side of Busseron Street, ones owned by the organization, from residential to commercial.
And, as is customary, the request was also submitted to the Area Plan Commission.
The city council traditionally approves a proposed zoning change on first reading and then sends it to the APC for review.
APC members, in a vote of 8-1, approved the zoning request — conditionally.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Doll said the APC had some concerns with storm water drainage issues there but gave the zoning request a favorable recommendation, “contingent upon the development occurring within one year.”
Though the second reading unanimously passed the council on Monday, council members say more information — specifically about stormwater drainage problems as well as the design of the structure itself — is needed before the third and final vote.
In July, a handful of neighbors went before members of the APC to oppose the thrift store’s expansion, citing the new building’s potential aesthetics as well as how it would impact stormwater drainage in a neighborhood that already experiences flooding during heavy rains.
Council members echoed those concerns on Monday.
“We’re thankful for the work St Vincent de Paul does, but the biggest concern I have is drainage and making sure any changes made don’t make things worse,” said council president Tim Salters.
Councilman Marc McNeece, also the council’s appointment to the APC, said he, too, is concerned about the drainage issue, but he’s also thinking about how the large storage facility will fit into a primarily residential neighborhood.
“It’s a nice piece of construction, but I don’t feel comfortable rezoning a piece of property that looks like a barn. Neighbors were looking for something that looks more residential, rather than a pole barn,” he said.
Council members did, however, acknowledge there is little St. Vincent de Paul can do to remedy the stormwater issues experienced there.
There seemed to be consensus that a thorough clearing of nearby City Ditch is needed, which would allow for stormwater to better drain from the entire area.
However, there is no indication this will happen in the foreseeable future; the city’s Utilities Service Board has considered it, but the cost would be considerable.
The thrift store, too, takes on water from properties across the street, so its are not immune to the problem itself.
Doll said officials with St. Vincent de Paul plan to reach out to Vincennes Water Utilities to explore what can be done — whether on their part or the city’s — to remedy the flooding situation.
“I certainly would lean on our experts on this issue,” McNeece added.
In other news, the council held first reading of an ordinance that would amend the city’s regulation of manufactured houses.
Last month councilmen heard from city inspector Brad Snider and his plan to draft a new local ordinance prohibiting people from living in backyard campers and motorhomes.
First reading passed in a vote of 7-0.