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Diesel power: Vote backs city ruling on pumps

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GREENFIELD — Though clear for the moment that diesel pumps at a convenience store at Progress Park will be allowed, questions still remain about the business expansion.

By a 5–4 vote Monday, the Greenfield Area Plan Commission approved a development plan for the installation of three pump islands and five diesel fuel pumps on the station’s west side. The equipment has been in place for months after city planners issued a permit for the construction of the fuel islands and canopy in November.

    However, representatives for Eli Lilly, parent company of Elanco, whose world headquarters are nearby in Progress Park, argued the new pumps amounted to a redevelopment of the site that required a more in-depth review of the plan. Lilly appealed the permit ahead of a full review of a development plan by the plan commission.

 Monday night’s discussion attempted to resolve the matter. A majority of plan commission members ultimately voted to back the city’s original decision, putting a city board squarely at odds with the city’s most important employer and leaving opponents to ponder their next move.

 Joining nearby residents in arguing that the additional pumps would attract too many semi-trailer trucks to the area, Lilly’s attorney, Michael Andreoli, told the commission that approving the plan would “potentially put in jeopardy all the money that’s been spent by Eli Lilly” to construct the Elanco campus.

  “The pumps and canopy are not consistent with the $40 million investment that Lilly has made there as a brand and as a global headquarters,” Andreoli said. “It’s not compatible, and it’s a significant concern to Lilly.”

  Steve Van Soelen, Eli Lilly director of strategic real estate and facilities planning, reiterated that the plan was not compatible with existing and potential development in the area.

  “This is part of your front door, and this use clouds that inviting corridor,” Van Soelen said.

  Joining Eli Lilly in opposition to the expansion, residents near the store said they fear the additional diesel fueling capacity will draw more big rigs to the area, and whether Speedway becomes a “truck stop” or not, more trucks are not what residents need, they say.

“We’ve seen trucks on that site right now, and it’s not working,” said Kris Jones, a resident of nearby Cranberry Lake Estates. “Trucks don’t navigate the site properly as it is.”

Though Speedway has filed restrictive covenants prohibiting the establishment of a truck stop or freight yard at the site, residents nonetheless voiced concerns that the station could ultimately move in that direction over time and cause increased congestion and traffic in the area.

After the meeting, Andreoli said no decision had been made as to whether Lilly would pursue the matter further; however, city planner Joanie Fitzwater said the company could seek judicial review of the commission’s decision.

Voting  in favor of the development plan, which means the diesel facility can stay, were commission members Steve Cooper, Jill Carr, Carl Graham, Digby Terry and Karla Vincent. Voting against the development plan on the nine-member commission were Paulette Richardson, David Spencer, Becky Riley and Gary McDaniel.

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