St. Vincent de Paul thrift store is now one step closer in moving forward with an expansion project after city council members on Monday unanimously voted to approve a zoning change.

But they must first work alongside officials with Vincennes Water Utilities to ensure their next construction project doesn’t exacerbate existing flooding problems experienced by residents there.

The charitable organization, which operates the thrift store at 1604 Main St., says they are out of space to house donated items. So their plan is to construct a 60 x 80 foot storage facility on a piece of adjacent property.

But first, city council members had to approve a zoning change from residential to commercial — a move that left some councilmen with questions when the issue first surfaced earlier this year.

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 and adjacent to the organization, from residential to commercial.

And, as is customary, the request was also submitted to the Area Plan Commission for review.

The city council traditionally approves a proposed zoning change on first reading then sends it to the APC, which gives it either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation.

APC members, in a vote of 8-1, approved the zoning request — but with conditions as they, too, were worried about flooding there.

City council president Tim Salters said he and other city leaders, including officials with Vincennes Water Utilities, have since met with representatives from St. Vincent de Paul to begin addressing some of those concerns.

“We moved forward with some good ideas to be able to alleviate this issue, and I think we’re all on the same page,” Salters said, noting that they want to ensure the project doesn’t add to the flooding issues.

Levee superintendent Hunter Pinnell said while the organization’s planned expansion doesn’t meet the one-acre requirement for the submittal of a storm water drainage plan with a construction permit, the entire development — which has occurred over the last several years — does.

Given the severity of flooding in that area during heavy rains, all involved agree that it’s time to do something to remedy the situation once and for all.

“They’re on board, and we’re going to do something to fix that problem,” Pinnell said of the St. Vincent de Paul organization.

Salters, too, said he feels confident in allowing the zoning change now that a line of communication has been opened between the non-profit and the utility.

In other business, the council on Monday approved first readings of the proposed $15.6 million city budget for 2021, which includes a 1% raise for city employees.

All city government workers will receive the pay increase next year, with the exception of city council members, who have elected not to accept it themselves.

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