Approve Zone Change
As a resident of Wheeling and specifically the 5th Ward, I support, and hope that City Council will support, the proposed zone change for 1154 National Road.
I grew up in Wheeling and spent many summer days and nights biking from my small neighborhood to play with my friends in Woodsdale. Since moving back to Wheeling 13 years ago to raise my family with my wife, our kids now have that same privilege.
Currently, the structures on the property in question are vacant, are in significant disrepair, and apparently have no viable tenants. Despite all of this, there are some who are leading the opposition against its redevelopment and instead prefer this status quo.
Change, however — for better or worse — is inevitable. In its decline as a vacant, unsupervised building, this property has attracted a bad element out of character for this neighborhood. I’ve been told the former church parking lot is a place where drug activity occurs. If left to continue on as a vacant property, this activity will only get worse.
We have all seen what happened to downtown Wheeling when buildings were let go. I applaud the past actions of City Council to encourage owners to improve or sell their buildings. The city has also worked hard to attract new tenants like the Health Plan that, by all accounts, have been model citizens and greatly improved the downtown landscape.
By permitting the Woodsdale zone change, Council will give this property the chance to be rehabilitated and once again contribute to the community. If a bank is built, the vacant and dilapidated buildings will be replaced with a new building, construction jobs will be created, the project and continuing bank activity will generate tax revenue for the county and city, and the property will have constant surveillance — most likely eliminating the criminal activity currently happening there.
Reports are that there will be between 10 and 20 new full-time jobs created. How is this a bad idea?
Council has the opportunity to send a message to the city’s residents and its business community that it will make thoughtful decisions consistent with its own comprehensive Plan for the benefit of all of its residents — not just for a handful who oppose positive change through responsible commercial development.
The perspective developer of this property isn’t asking for tax breaks. They aren’t asking for financial incentives at the expense of the city’s taxpayers. All they ask is that Council follow its own rules when they make a decision that would result in the development of an unused piece of land. City Council needs to not only vote in favor of the zone change, but extend a welcome to an incoming employer. If it does not, another community will, and Wheeling will once again be passed over, continuing to wonder why it lacks development when other communities enjoy commercial expansion that benefits all.