News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 7, 2013

Area Plan Commission approves rezoning for eastside superstore

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Shoppers eager to visit a Terre Haute Meijer store got some good news Wednesday night.

The Vigo County Area Plan Commission, an appointed body that oversees rezoning requests, gave its approval to a pair of applications that would allow a Meijer to open on the city’s east side near Indiana 46/U.S. 40 and New Margaret Avenue.

The rezonings are supported by the area’s comprehensive plan, according to the Area Planning Department.

The first petition came from property owners Greg Gibson and John McDonnall. The second came from Benjamin J. Houle. Both were approved without opposition and would transform sections of agricultural land to commercial property.

Meijer sells groceries, clothing, electronics and other consumer goods. The store would be within the Terre Haute International Airport’s economic development zone, meaning property taxes generated by the property could help promote new development and investment in and around the airport.

The rezoning approval must go now to the Terre Haute City Council, which meets at 6 p.m. next Thursday in City Hall.

• The plan commission also voted Wednesday to name Darren Maher as the new executive director of the Area Planning Department, the professional office that manages rezoning requests and presents them to the commissioners.

Maher, who had been acting director since the departure of former director Jeremy Weir in May, has been employed with the department for nine years. He was the “best qualified applicant” for the position, said Norm Froderman, a member of the commission’s personnel committee.

“I’m excited to work for the community,” Maher said after Wednesday’s one-hour commission meeting in the Vigo County Annex. When asked whether he intends to bring about changes in the department, Maher said, yes.

“As things go along there’s definitely going to be change because it’s a new step,” Maher said. “I’m looking toward economic development, creating commercial nodes, like we did with Meijer this evening, things like that.”

• The plan commissioners also gave conditional approval for a new cell phone and communications tower that would serve southside neighborhoods such as Youngstown, Cobblestone Crossings and Woodgate. High usage in the area strains existing cell phone capacity, said Christopher Britt, a radio frequency engineer for Verizon.

The new tower, which could also accommodate three other cell phone carriers, would be just south of Dallas Drive near U.S. 41 South.

The commissioners approved the request pending approval by the Vigo County Board of Zoning Appeals, which hears requests for special exemptions from existing zoning regulations. The request must ultimately be approved by the Vigo County Commissioners.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@