There’s no doubt the proposed 200,000-square-foot Meijer development has created a buzz amongst residents in Sussex lately. But the Schellin brothers, who own the land on which the store would be built, have concerns about their future.
The Village Board on Tuesday rezoned the Schellin’s land to make way for the big-box retailer and gas station that will rest on 20 acres of the roughly 68 acre plot. Steven Schellin supports the Meijer development, but he feels the village went too far by deeming 18 acres of his land an environmental corridor, which undevelopable for future buyers.
“We support the Meijer project and those changes required to be made in order to make the project a success. However, Meijer has not purchased the land yet, and my brother and I bear all the risk associated with the property if the project does not succeed.”
An amendment was necessary to merge disparate land uses on Schellin’s property and create a uniform plot for Meijer to build upon. The Village Board approved the amended land use map unanimously Tuesday.
Schellin said surveyors from the Department of Natural Resources, FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers had delineated a 5.9-acre boundary for an environmental corridor on his land. Instead, the village approved an environmental corridor that eats up roughly 12.1 more acres. Essentially, that’s 12.1 more acres that developers can’t build on, and it lowers the marketability of that plot.
"The environmental corridor only needs to be delineated by the scientifically determined limit,” Schellin said. “Not an overly conservative boundary that could limit our use if the Meijer project doesn’t succeed.”
Village Administrator Jeffrey Smith said the land uses can always be amended, and that option would be on the table should the Meijer project fall through. However, Schellin said it’s always more difficult to revise something once it’s changed – especially when it comes to reducing land designated for environmental uses.
“You end up looking like the bad guy when you go to change the land use,” Schellin said.
The village’s changes to its land use map drew roughly 100 residents to a pair of public hearings earlier this month. Some of the concerns involved the proposed store being open 24 hours a day, traffic congestion, and the size of the building.
Another public hearing is scheduled for December 20 with the intention to field more concerns and suggestions from the public.
“It’s like someone coming in and saying you have three bathrooms in the house with five kids, but you can only use one of them. It adds a little stress to the situation,” said Steven’s brother, Edwin Schellin. “It adds a risk that we don’t think we should bear the burden of right now.”