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Saturday October 20, 2018

hearing on auto parts store plans

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 15:49 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Plans for a new auto parts store in LaPorte could help reduce or contribute to the blight along a main artery into the city.

Those were the sentiments echoed Monday night by city council members on a proposal by O'Reilly Auto Parts to build along the 200 block of E. Lincolnway.

Members of the American Legion next door, though, are totally against it feeling squeezed in by a structure that would sit right beside the property line of their club and close enough to E. Lincolnway to obstruct their view of oncoming traffic pulling out.

Chuck Greenawalt, commander of the American Legion Post #83, asked the city council to either vote against it now or wait to see if changes are made in the drawings ''so it doesn't impact our legion.''

A decision could be made by the council at its October 16 meeting.

Five dilapidated homes along the four lane highway would be demolished to make way for the development.

City councilman Tim Stabosz said the project could be the start of converting originally was a residential stretch of highway into all commercial but wants the auto parts store to be aesthetically pleasing for him to support it.

But, with the front of the store not facing the highway and being ''shoe horned'' against the pavement and the American Legion, Stabosz said it would stick out like a sore thumb much like a competing store does on a small parcel across the street.

''I will fight to the death to have this not looking like Auto Zone. Auto Zone is a disaster,'' said Stabosz, whose comments drew applause.

Wayne Zeman, the past American Legion commander, said he prefers the houses be fixed up instead of replaced by ''big block buildings with no soul.''

Landlords want to sell their homes to the developer, saying they wouldn't be able to get more than the $400 a month in rent they collect now even if they were fixed up to recover their costs.

''They're not going to look prettier than they are right now,'' said Ray Miller, who lives in that neighborhood.

Councilman Miles Fettinger said allowing the auto parts store to go up would start the process of redeveloping that side of the city.

''If we don't change, we can't grow,'' Fettinger said.
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