The Sussex Village Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to change village conditional use code allowing for larger big boxes in certain areas zoned for business, a measure driven by the proposed Meijer store.
Retail stores in the village's B2 zone can now be 250,000 square feet rather than 125,000 square feet as previously allowed by law. The proposed Meijer store is expected to be nearly 200,000 square feet.
Trustees noted that the amended code would apply to all big box stores in the village's B2 zoned area, not just the Meijer store. As a result, any store that wishes to expand beyond the previous 125,000 square feet limit could request do to so.
Before village trustees took action, the board held a public hearing on the ordinance. During the hearing, several area residents spoke in support and opposition of the Meijer store proposed for the corner of Highway K and 164.
One of the biggest concerns the trustees heard was in regard to the store being open 24 hours a day.
"I have concerns about a 24-hour store and what that may bring to the area," said Jennifer Braden, a town of Lisbon resident who lives close to the proposed site. "I don't see the need for something with those kinds of hours."
Area residents also voiced their concerns regarding the detrimental impact a big box store like Meijer may have on small businesses in the area. They also questioned whether the area is able to support a big box in the current anemic economic climate.
On the flip side, those in support of the store said that it could spur much-needed economic growth with shoppers flocking to the area.
"It will, most likely, attract other businesses and other consumers to the area," said Chuck Schuele, the president of the Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce. "So I look at it as a step in the direction of building the community for future growth. I understand that there are some issues and … we need to get those issues on the table and get them (discussed) by the business community and citizens so we can all move forward collectively."
Another supporter said a grocery store open 24 hours a day will be a blessing for those who work third shift in the area.
The store plans to hire 200 to 250 employees, will be about 60 percent grocery and also consist of retail and pharmacy. The company has about 200 stores in the Midwest and plans to open three other stores in the metro area.
An open house for the proposed store will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Boneyard Pub & Grille. Community members will be able to view renderings and charts of the store while learning about the proposed store from company officials.