The Dearborn Plan Commission will take more time to review a plan for a Goodwill store in downtown west Dearborn.
The nonprofit Goodwill Industries will have to wait until the commission's next meeting in February for the outcome of a special land-use request. Commissioners could not agree Monday night on whether to approve the request.
. Goodwill is considered a "second-hand store," so 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.
Goodwill Director of Donated Goods Jeff Ukrainec presented the store plan to commissioners Monday night. Commissioners also heard letters of support for the store from two residents and Pastor Peter Petroske.
Sacred Heart runs the school that is within 700 feet of the proposed store location.
Much of the debate at the meeting centered around whether Goodwill fits with the city's "vision" for west downtown Dearborn. While some commissioners expressed support for a store that would fill a 15-year vacancy on Newman Street left by Inca Computers, others—most vehemently Commissioner Said Deep—felt unconvinced that the store would be a positive development.
"Once you start going down this road … in five years from now, we’ll say ‘How did we get here?’" Deep said. "We have zero retail in this area."
Deep contended that Goodwill's presence would drive away, rather than draw in, other retailers.
Commissioner Gary Errigo admitted that it's "not the type of retail we want," but added that it's better than keeping the property vacant.
Furthermore, Deep said he felt that allowing Goodwill to open there would be settling, rather than ideal. He said property owner Norm Newman in the past decided made to not rent the space to other viable options, including Merchant of Vino, Applebees and La Pita.
Newman has been accused in the past of going sour on deals to lease his properties.
In a short but heated debate, Newman called the accusations "an outright lie," but later said that he "made a mistake" in turning down Applebees.
Neuman said his decision to rent to Goodwill was made after seeing their store in Canton.
"When I was approached by Goodwill, I turned them down," he told the commission. "I was very skeptical. I had that stigma of resale. Jeff (Ukrainec) encouraged me to go out to Canton. I went out and I was really amazed at their sophisticated operation."
Resident and owner of Sickle's Dance Academy Christine Sickle agreed.
"I went and saw the store yesterday and was totally amazed at the clothes," she said. "There was Anne Klein, there was Liz Claiborne. I would shop there."
Deep, however, pointed out that one store’s success does not guarantee another’s.
“You coming here and saying it’s good in Canton, and therefore it’ll be good here–I don’t think it’s a fair comparison,” he said.
owner and resident Dr. Chris May spoke out against the plan. May's practice is located on Michigan Avenue in the same lot as the proposed Goodwill store.
"Do we want a lower economic group being serviced here?" May asked. "I think the organization is good, I just question whether that particular location is the best for our vision of Dearborn."
Commissioner Deep motioned to deny the special land use request, with Commissioner Nasser AlRayashi supporting. Commissioners Errigo, Susan Binder and Chris Forsyth voted against the denial.
However, because two commissioners were absent, the necessary five votes to pass the request were not attainable.
The commission plans to revisit the request at it's next meeting on Feb. 13, and requested that Goodwill gather more information to address the concerns of commissioners.
Goodwill was slated to request a waiver before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday in regard to their proximity to a residential district, but will have to wait to do so until and only if the City Plan Commission approves their request.