VANDALIA — The debate over donuts continued Monday night, but this time in front of the body that will ultimately decide the issue – the Vandalia City Council.
Council moved its normal work session to the larger council chambers in anticipation of a large crowd, and residents who oppose the proposed Dunkin Donuts did not disappoint.
Mayor Arlene Setzer opened the session by reminding those in attendance that council’s job is “not to determine the competition of business” in the city.
Many who are opposed to the Dunkin Donuts fear its impact on Jim’s Donuts, long-time Vandalia shop just a few hundred feet down National Road from the Dunkin Donuts site.
The opposition on Monday focused on traffic concerns, however.
“This is like the O. J. (Simpson) trial, the glove that doesn’t fit,” said Joe Dranschak. “It is a nice facility, but it doesn’t fit that corner.”
John Sippel said he wasn’t opposed to a Dunkin Donuts, but not at the proposed site of Perry Street and National Road.
“One thing not in the traffic study is what is it going to be like in five years from now?” he asked.
A traffic study conducted by OAKS Engineering found that traffic around the site and on National Road would continue to be within allowable standards. The Vandalia City Engineer agreed with those findings.
Council Member Candice Farst was the only one to voice her opinion calling the site a “complicated little area.”
“A PUD (Planned Unit Development) is an overlay of the original zoning, and a one-line sentence makes this possible,” she said. “It was not mad to allow development with multiple variances. To allow this property on that lot is extremely not on my radar.”
Council Member Dave Gerhard, while not indicating how he would vote, reiterated Mayor Setzer’s comment about competition.
“When we make a decision, at no point does eliminating competition for a local business come into play,” he said. “We all love Jim’s Donuts, but cities can’t legislate based on favorites.”
The Vandalia City Council will take its first formal vote on the proposal at its May 16 meeting. If the Final Development Plan passes its first reading, the council will vote on its second reading at its June 20 meeting.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.