City pushes rezoning residential land to commercial

Caption:  The Flandreau Development Corporation and city planners want property east of Tractor Supply Co. rezoned to highway commercial from residential to prepare the parcel for future economic development. Neighbors in the area oppose the change.

Homeowners near a vacant lot along Highway 32 on the west side of town oppose the city’s plan to rezone the property to highway commercial in hopes that a business would be interested in developing the land.

Gordy Jones, who lives east of the vacant lot on the east side of Tractor Supply Co., said his property value will deteriorate if the land becomes a commercial parcel next to houses in that neighborhood. He told city councilors that when Flandreau Development Corp. purchased the property it was zoned residential, something the economic development group should have considered.

“Why did they buy it?” he asked.

Jones was one of a handful of neighbors around the vacant property who said they opposed the change. They cited problems in the past when ALCO built and opened the store that is now Tractor Supply, including more trash and heavier foot traffic. Jones also said a water leak on the property caused the removal of a curb, and his property already has standing water in the driveway as a result. The curb was never replaced, he said.

The city zoning board unanimously recommended that the council approve the change so that if there is an interested business, the property would be properly zoned. City Council members will hear a second reading of the proposed change at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 20 at city offices at 1005 W. Elm Ave.

Carleen Wild Wilson, president of the development corporation, said several members on the board were surprised that the property was still zoned residential when its most logical use is commercial. The change is needed as part of a long-term plan to be prepared to bring more business to Flandreau, she said in an interview earlier this week.

“We as a board and as a community, if we would like to see some future development, whatever that may be, we need to be better prepared for it,” she said. Communities, especially along the Interstate 29 corridor, are competing for development opportunities, and Flandreau will be working on a master plan that could attract companies or help local businesses expand, she said.

Planning and zoning board member Brian Bergjord said the change should be made because the property is prime commercial ground. He said a fence could be incorporated into any plans if the property is sold to a business, in order to better separate it from neighbors.

Council member Bart Sample said he would want to see the curb near Jones’ property replaced to prevent driveway flooding. He also said it wouldn’t be out of line to ask the development corporation to plant trees to make the land more attractive to neighbors.

Council member Ron Smith said that even though the property owned by the development corporation is zoned residential now, zoning is meant to be changed when it’s needed.

“It’s a living document,” he said. “The logical use is economic development.”

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