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Wheeling Planning Commission Takes Rain Check on Proposed North Park Grocery Store

Plans for a proposed corner grocery store in North Park have been put on hold temporarily while the Wheeling Planning Commission considers all provided information before making a recommendation to city council.

Council chambers were packed Monday night during the monthly Planning Commission meeting, when the last of three public hearings on the agenda saw nearly a dozen local residents — some favoring and others opposing the store — step forward to speak.

Longtime Wheeling resident Everette Gray Jr., who grew up in North Park and lived there for 30 years, hopes to establish the On Deck Korner Grocery Store on a vacant lot at 2 Hawk Court. To do so, that property must be rezoned from R-4 High Density Residential to C-1 Neighborhood Commercial District.

Gray told the Planning Commission on Monday he is following a dream to fill a need in the hilltop neighborhood in North Park, which has been described as a “food desert.” Access to convenience stores and grocery stores is difficult for many North Park residents, especially during treacherous winter weather.

On Deck Korner Grocery would offer typical deli items and goods that any old-fashioned “first-name basis” community grocery store offers, along with barbecue items and daily lunch specials. The store would operate from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

“We want to provide delivery to the elderly and the disabled,” Gray said, who noted in his proposal that he intends to offer no alcohol sales or gaming machines on the property.

Conceptual drawings of site plans and floor plans were provided during the presentation, displaying a small building that would need to be constructed, along with a small lot with four customer parking spaces.

Several residents spoke in favor of the proposal, citing the need for a small neighborhood grocery store that could benefit everyone living there. But several expressed concerns about increased traffic, lighting and other factors that would detract from the residential character of the neighborhood.

“I love the concept of it, but I also hear what they’re saying about the fact that it’s a residential area — and that’s why we have zoning,” Councilman Dave Palmer, a member of the Planning Commission, said.

Gray did provide a petition with several names of local residents who are in favor of the proposal and would like to see a grocery store there.

Three letters on this matter were also received by the city’s Planning and Zoning staff, which recommended that the issue be forwarded to the Zoning Committee for further consideration and recommendation.

The Zoning Committee is expected to meet with Gray at 5 p.m. Nov. 1 to make a recommendation on the zoning change proposal to the Planning Commission for its Nov. 8 meeting. Thereafter, a recommendation will be made to Wheeling City Council.

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