Neighbors rake ‘Hy-Vee council’

The Gazette

May 26, 1994

Neighbors rake ‘Hy-Vee council’

Expansion OK’d, 4-1

By Lonnie Zlngula Gazette City Hall reporter

Some Cedar Rapids City Council members may have a need for jobs to be created by expansion of the Johnson Avenue Hy-Vee Food Store if neighbors have their say.

An extension of commercial zoning needed to accommodate expansion of the store at 1843 Johnson Ave. NW was approved by the council Wednesday on a 4-1 vote. That satisfied the super-majority approval required be­ cause opposition has been filed by more than 20 percent of the property owners within 200 feet of the project.

It did not, however, satisfy neighbors opposed to the project, including a woman who addressed the “Hy-Vee council” following the vote.

“I want to thank you for destroying our neighborhood,” said Luella Spike, 151 19th St NW. ” We will remember it at election time.”

The project, which had been recommended for denial by the City Planning Commission, divided the residential neighborhood surrounding the store.

Supporters liked the prospect of an expanded store and feared what would become of the building if Hy-Vee was denied and moved elsewhere.

Opponents argued the expansion would worsen problems that already exist, including narrow streets, traffic congestion and inadequate storm sewers. “Wherever I look I find problems,” said Rohan Houlden of 200 19th St. NW.

Parks Commissioner Dave Kramer sided with the opposition, voting against the project, he said, because he thought the proposed store was too large for the site.

Hy-Vee plans to expand the existing 31,600-square-foot store to 64,370 Square feet — slightly larger than its newest and largest local stores on Mount Ver­non Road SE and in Marion. The project will cost $4.75 million and provide 100 additional full- and part-time jobs at the store, Hy-Vee officials said.

The expansion encompasses nine homes behind the store purchased by Hy-Vee in recent years. The company has been working with the city’s Affordable Housing Commission, the Metro Area Housing Program (MAHP) and Habitat for Humanity to try to save four houses suitable for moving, but lots have been found for only three.

“Lots are kind of scarce on that side of town and we really can’t cross the river because of the interstate,” said Affordable Housing Commission Chairman Scott Olson.

Reusable material from houses that can’t be moved will be salvaged by MAHP prior to demolition, Olson said. Hy-Vee has tentatively agreed to contribute any avoided demolition costs to agencies that move the houses as well as donate $20,000 to MAHP’s EcoYouth program, he noted.

“We hope this project serves as an example of what can be done when people work together,” Olson said.

The rezoning must pass two additional readings of the council to take effect.