Hope council rejects proposed combo dollar store development

Photo provided Hope Town Council has rejected a zoning change for this property at the request of developers of a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar combo store.

HOPE – Bowing to public pressure and a unfavorable recommendation from the town’s Planning Commission, the Hope Town Council denied a rezoning request to allow a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar combo store at the corner of Main and South streets.

Tuesday night’s vote was unanimous and taken without discussion. But while council member John Walstad voted against the rezoning request from Tharp Investment Group of Indianapolis, he appeared hesitant about casting a nay vote during Tuesday’s meeting.

The morning after the vote, Walstad explained what was going through his mind.

He recalled how two tax-paying restaurants — Subway and Snappy Tomato Pizza — left town, and their combined space was purchased by a non-taxpaying church. While Walstad said he fully supports churches, he is also an advocate of creating new jobs.

Currently, Hope has four empty commercial buildings, but the councilman says it appears the owners want to continue using them as storage space.

And establishing new retail space is extremely difficult because, in Walstad’s words, “Hope is so landlocked.”

Walstad is aware that safety concerns had been the number one reason given by those who spoke out against the proposed combo store.

“But when Huck’s (Convenience Store) next door brings in their big tanker truck, they have to back out onto Highway 9 to get straightened out,” Walstad said. “Now, how dangerous is that?”

Although there was no discussion Tuesday, it was an entirely different matter on Nov. 27 when nearly 50 people attended a public hearing regarding the proposed $2.5 million development.

Of the 15 individuals who addressed the Hope Planning Commission, not a single person spoke in favor of the proposed 10,500 square foot combined stores.

Other than safety, a Tharp official said a house at 10021 N. State Road 9 would have to be either torn down or moved to make way for the stores. But that residence was built around a log cabin constructed in 1839 by one of Hope’s founding fathers, said Jessica Deckard of the Yellow Trail Museum.

Several residents also said most products available through a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar combo are already available at the DG Market (Dollar General) where State Road 9 intersects with County Road 600N. Dollar General has maintained a presence in Hope since 1999.

Following that meeting, the five-member Hope Plan Commission, which includes council members Ohmer Miller and Ed Johnson, unanimously agreed to give the rezoning request an unfavorable recommendation.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a correction. Jessica Deckard is the Yellow Trail Museum representative. An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect first name.