After four months of public debate and by the Dearborn City Plan Commission, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit got its final vote Monday night on a special land use request that would pave the way for the opening of a retail store in Dearborn.
With all members present at a meeting held at , the commission passed the request with a 5-4 vote.
"They say the third time's a charm–well, for us, the fouth time's a charm," said Goodwill Director of Donated Goods Jeffrey Ukrainec of the approval. "We're happy that everyone showed up ... it was all or nothing."
that they hoped to lease a property on Newman Street in west downtown Dearborn, just west of Military and south of Michigan Avenue. Because Goodwill is considered a "second-hand store," the plan requires City Plan Commission approval, as well as a waiver from the Zoning Board of Appeals allowing it to be within 700 feet of a residential area and school.
Absent commissioners were the biggest roadblock for a decision on the matter, as a Special Land Use request requires a majority vote of the entire commission, not just a majority of those present.
At the , five of nine commissioners were present, and a vote on the issue couldn't gain the majority support necessary to pass, so the issue was tabled.
In February, the –four in favor, four against, with Commissioner Tawfic Hassan absent.
In March, the issue was at Goodwill's request when they learned that four of the nine commissioners would not be able to attend.
At Monday night's meeting, much of the discussion centered around the proposed location of the store, which is close to the central west downtown district.
Several commissioners and members of the public said they felt that Goodwill would be a fine addition to Dearborn–in another location.
"The (former) Borders bookstore seems like an attractive place, or around that area, because it is a mixed use,” said Commissioner Said Deep, who suggested that the store would actually get more traffic at the Ford Road location thanks to Ford Motor Company employees who frequent the shopping area.
“Lost in all of this debate is that fact: Dearborn welcomes with open arms Goodwill," he added. "The decision is whether or not this special land use should be allowed.”
Commissioner Susan Binder disagreed, saying that Dearborn's mentality of waiting for the perfect business was stopping the city from getting any business in the downtown area.
“I’m a little dismayed by an attitude I grew up with in Dearborn and that I thought we’d outgrown, and that’s that we’re waiting for something better to come along," she said. “We can approve and let this be a catalyst for better things to come, or we can just sit back and let our buildings languish and wait for the good guy to come galloping in on his white steed.”
The building that Goodwill hopes to lease has been vacant for over a decade.
The issue will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals at their April 18 meeting. That board will be charged with deciding whether Goodwill has met the requirements to receive a waiver to be within 700 feet of a residential area and school.
To that end, Goodwill in December from residents, as well as letters of support from local businesses and .
Ukrainec said they are confident they have the support they need to receive the Zoning Board waiver, and they hope to open the store by late August or early September.