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Developer set for another try at New Pal corner site

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NEW PALESTINE — The northwest corner of CR 600W and U.S. 52 in New Palestine is once again primed for development to allow a gas station and convenience store.

The Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals Thursday approved on a 3-1 vote the landowner’s request for a special exception to allow a gas station on just over two acres.

A year ago, property owners Credo Investments and Dr. Trevor Lloyd-Jones sought and obtained approval to locate a Casey’s General Store at the northwest corner of the intersection; however, that approval expired after 12 months.

An attempt to place a convenience store in the form of a Ricker’s outlet across the street also foundered after a required gravity main sewer connection under U.S. 52 made the project too expensive.

Lloyd-Jones said the past year’s events have at least raised awareness of the development hurdles at the location.

“We now know what we’re up against, and any prospective company would know what it’s getting into up front,” Lloyd-Jones said.

Though Lloyd-Jones said he has had conversations with various parties about locating at the site, no potential tenants have signed on.

Also at issue in the debate is a historic, two-story house that formerly fronted U.S. 52, but was moved north along CR 600W – very close to New Palestine resident Charles Martin’s property line.

The house was originally permitted for the move in 2012; however, with an extension to the original permit set to expire next Wednesday, the work still has not been completed.

Martin said he’s concerned because the house – which hasn’t been fully lowered onto a foundation – is sitting unoccupied and unfinished. He fears that is compromising his property value.

“It can be a beautiful corner,” Martin told board members, “one that the whole county can be proud of. But as long as that house sits there, it is killing the looks of that corner.”

Lloyd-Jones assured board members the unfinished work to finalize the relocation of the structure would be completed by the March 5 deadline. He further committed to having the site cleaned up in three months, assuming good weather.

Though the way is now cleared for a gas station and convenience store, any further development will require an approved site plan and approval by the various state and county departments having jurisdiction there.

Merle McRoberts, Dee Carmichael and Byron Holden voted to approve the special exception; Bob Hiday dissented.

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