VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council voted unanimously to block a proposed Dunkin Donuts on Monday night. The project, which would have been built at the corner of Perry St. and National Road, appears to be dead according to the developer.
“We have already presented everything,” said Pat Gilligan, whose company, Gilligan Oil Company, would have owned and operated the restaurant. “We met with staff for about six months who worked through the project, changed things, went through their PUD (Planned Unit Development) zoning, and put it in a package that they felt the city would approve. It went to the Planning Commission and they approved it, and though the process they (staff) asked us to do an intensive traffic study because that was a potential problem all along. We did that and it was shown that the traffic was not going to be changed in a negative way, so we have done everything we could possibly do.”
Vice Mayor Dave Lewis, who made the motion to deny the ordinance, said he objected to using the PUD to change the underlying zoning of the property. The property is currently zoned as an Office Service District and “is established to provide area for suitable environments for small scale office, service, and limited commercial use” according to the Vandalia Codified Ordinances.
A Planned Unit Development overlay is “designed to allow land planning that responds to the unique characteristics of the site and its surroundings while better fulfilling the needs of both the community and the applicant than conventional zoning and sudivision standards permit.”
“That’s not what the PUD was designed for,” said Lewis after the meeting. “If someone wants that use for a property then they should ask to change the zoning, not use the PUD. That’s the wrong way to do it and not what the PUD was designed for.”
Lewis said that traffic concerns or competition concerns for Jim’s Donuts was not a factor in his decision.
I told the guy (Gilligan) that if the zoning got changed I’d vote for it tomorrow,” said Lewis.
Gilligan expressed frustration with what he called the subjective nature of the decision.
“There’s 15,000 residents and 10 show up and don’t want the project so City Council hangs its hat on a zoning issue when we know the contiguous properties are all commercial,” he said. “There’s a Dominoes, a Goodyear Tire, and a Rite Aid all sitting on the exact same zoning context. When things are subjective like that there’s not much else we can do.”
Since the PUD was an ordinance, it must face two readings, and two votes before council. The matter will come before council again on Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.