Middletown council delays decision about convenience store’s expansion after lengthy debate

The owners of Sloan's Market, 1825 Highland St., want to add a drive-through and parking spaces. The city's planning commission denied the zoning change and city council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its next meeting. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The owners of Sloan's Market, 1825 Highland St., want to add a drive-through and parking spaces. The city's planning commission denied the zoning change and city council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its next meeting. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The proposed expansion of a neighborhood convenience store has been delayed after Middletown City Council members were hesitant to overrule a recommendation from the planning commission.

On Jan. 13, the planning commission denied a request to change the zoning classification for a 1.17-acre parcel at 1817 Highland St. from attached residential district to neighborhood business district. Sloan’s Market, 1825 Highland St., wants to add a drive-thru and pavement for additional parking, according to city documents.

The planning commission denied the request after reviewing the application, submitted materials, visiting the property and addressing the concerns of neighbors, according to documents. The commission determined the drive-thru and added parking would “negatively impact” the safety of the neighborhood and create more traffic.

During Tuesday night’s council meeting, members debated the issue, and at times seemed ready to reverse the decision from the planning commission and approve the zoning change.

When a city official told council starting the legislation from “zero” could delay the project four to six months, Vice Mayor Joe Mulligan told council members he was ready to approve the zoning.

“Let the business owners get to work,” he said of the proposed expansion.

The planning commission recommended allowing a single-family residence to be built on the property. A “blighted” home was demolished on the same property in 2013, according to the city.

After talking with members of planning commission, visiting the convenience store and reviewing the two calls for police service to Sloan’s, council member Monica Nenni said allowing the expansion was “the right thing to do.”

Council eventually voted to postpone the decision until the next meeting, April 6.

During one part of the discussion, Middletown attorney John Herr, who represents the owners, RY Petroleum Inc., stood up and tried to talk to council members. But Mayor Nicole Condrey told Herr no public comments were allowed because it was the second reading of the ordinance.

Council member Tal Moon said council received information about the proposal that wasn’t shared with planning commission.

During the first reading of the ordinance, several concerns from local residents were shared with council. Condrey stressed to residents that “we are listening.”

While Condrey said she “respects” the planning commission and its decision, she said council has to right to disagree.

“We are not stepping on toes,” she said.

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