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Neighbors in Jefferson oppose Dollar General store, First United Methodist’s parking lot plans

POSTED: December 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

JEFFERSON — The efforts of two churches to have multiple pieces of property rezoned drew more than 50 people to the Jefferson City Council work session on Monday.

During the meeting, Harvest Chapel Ministries Inc. requested that a one-acre piece of property on Old Pendergrass Road be rezoned from office institutional to highway commercial for the purpose of building a Dollar General Store.

"We do (own) 14 acres of land that is split up into two seven-acre plats. The church is located on one of those plats, and we feel like we have plenty of room to grow on that land, so we would like to sell the other plat," said Steve Hightower, who is the church’s pastor. "It is our intention to sell the other seven acres because we want to be more effective in our community. It just so happens that Dollar General made us an offer. The proceeds (from the sale) would go to retire our debts, which would free up funds to allow us to be more effective."

Opponents to the rezoning measure included nearby residential property owners. City Councilman Roy Plott questioned why the group wanted to put a commercial development in a residential neighborhood.

"It is a matter of cost and economics," said Armand Swisher, who was representing the church at the meeting. "Other property on (nearby) Highway 129 is prohibitively expensive."

Although the City Council did not take any action, the Quad Cities Planning Commission recommended that the rezoning request be approved.

The rezoning request from First United Methodist Church did not receive such a favorable recommendation from the planning commission.

The church, which is near the intersection of Cooley and Storey streets, is asking that a nearly two-acre piece of property be rezoned from medium density residential to office institutional for the purpose of a church parking lot and an additional structure. The Quad Cities Planning Commission has recommended that the request be denied.

Representatives from the church told the City Council that an additional parking lot is necessary as street parking and other parking spaces were not adequate to support the church’s members.

"I have been elected to speak on behalf of those neighbors who object to this rezoning request," said Chuck DuBose, who lives on an adjacent property. "We do not feel that this is an appropriate use of property in that area. What they are proposing to do will have a negative impact. I’m concerned about having an empty parking lot in my backyard.

"I know that Jefferson is a small town, and there’s not a lot of crime, but bad things can happen anywhere, and sometimes an empty parking lot has the tendency to draw unwanted activity," DuBose said.

The City Council is expected to take action on the two rezoning requests during its voting session on Dec. 22 at the Jefferson Civic Center on Kissam Street.



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