VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council approved a conditional use permit that allows the American Legion Post 668 to move from their current location on W. National Road to the former Church of Christ building at the corner of Helke and National Road.
Council voted 5-0 to approve the permit. Council Member Richard Herbst abstained from the vote and Bob Ahlers was absent from the meeting.
The relocation allows a conditional use for the “Club” on the property at 626 W. National Road. That use is a conditionally permitted use in the Highway Business Zoning District under the City Code.
Video of the meeting is here:
The approval was granted over the objection of residents on Koch Avenue which abuts the property.
“How would you feel if a bar, club, or drinking establishment would be 20 feet from your back yard,” said Joyce Orange, a resident on Koch Ave. “More than one real estate agent has said my property value would go down, even your own (Council Member) Mr. (Richard) Herbst said they would go down.”
Ray Campbell, also a resident on Koch Ave., voiced similar concerns.
“We are opposed to the American Legion due to the valuation of my property,” said Campbell. “There are other places they can go. This is 20 feet from my back door – we need a safe neighborhood.”
The city’s Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend the Conditional Use Permit at its January 24 meeting with some conditions including adequate parking, conformance to sign codes, landscaping and screening, repaving of the parking lot, loading and unloading of trucks in the northwest corner of the property, lighting being downward shining, and the closing of the Helke Road entrance.
Vandalia Fire officials have subsequently recommended that the Helke Road driveway not be closed.
Council held a special meeting on Saturday and added another condition to the permit which would remove the asphalt from the southeast end of the building to the westernmost edge of the property and replacing it with grass. This would prevent any delivery trucks from circling the building close to the houses on Koch Ave.
“We’ve put a lot of thought in this,” said Council Member Candice Farst. “We think a compromise was taking the asphalt out and adding grass so they can’t drive around for deliveries. What other uses already allowed could be worse. This compromise alleviates the irritation of the residents.”
Council Member David Lewis agreed – other potential uses of the property that would not require a permit could be more detrimental to residents.
“When we looked at the other potential uses of the property that could happen with no input from the city they look much more intense than that proposed,” Lewis said.
“We’ve looked at all factors we have heard from all sides,” said Council Member Mike Blakesly. “We have added conditions to minimize the impact.”