Zoning won’t be referred

Zoning won't be referred by David Lias Organizers of a petition drive to refer a July 19 zoning decision by the Vermillion City Council to a public vote have decided to let the decision stand.

Thursday, Aug. 12, was the deadline for filing the petitions. Organizers had gathered more than the 424 needed signatures to let Vermillion voters decide the zoning issue.

But feedback received by petition circulators, and from people who called a telephone number listed in advertisements run recently by people favoring the referendum drive, prompted the decision to not file the petitions.

"We (the organizers) had a meeting on Aug. 9, and decided that even though we were gathering signatures and it looked like we would have enough," said Caitlin Collier, one of the petition drive's organizers, "the concern was that in gathering those signatures, we had people going door-to-door.

"They were finding that it was running about 70 to 80 percent of the people they talked to were in favor of letting Wal-Mart come," Collier said. "So ? it would be pretty pointless to put it on the ballot if it were going to lose."

The Vermillion City Council voted unanimously July 19 to change the zoning of what's commonly known as the Anderson property from residential to allow light industrial and retail businesses to locate there.

The tract of land, presently an alfalfa field, is located east of Princeton Street between West Duke Street and S.D. Highway 50.

Early this summer, there was speculation throughout the community that Wal-Mart has plans to locate a retail center on the property.

Lisa Ketcham, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber/Development Company, confirmed at a recent city council meeting that Wal-Mart is conducting feasibility studies to determine if the site is appropriate.

Collier said individuals concerned about Wal-Mart's potential effects on Vermillion's retail sector have decided to change their focus.

"We want to become more educational," she said. "What we've encountered is people didn't understand the dangers of letting Wal-Mart come in."

Collier said she and others are asking the city council to conduct an economic impact study. "We're going to continue to try and put some pressure on the elected officials and also on the Chamber of Commerce and Development Company because they are title owners of the property to be sold."

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