By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The outgoing city council held a second reading and approved an ordinance to limit the proliferation of variety and small box stores, also known as dollar stores, in the city.
At its final meeting as a body Nov. 6, the city council unanimously approved zoning article 4, section 24-166, which seeks to regulate the stores, which typically offer inexpensive, energy-dense, low nutritive food and beverages at the expense of fresh, nutritious food.
The city council has expressed concern that the owners of the city’s only supermarket, which was destroyed more than a year ago in a fire, have expressed a desire to rebuild the adjacent dollar store but not the supermarket. Another dollar store is adjacent to the now vacant lot.
The site, across from Coogan Manor, serves as a primary food store for seniors and people with disabilities, who often went to the city’s only grocery store in powered wheelchairs prior to the fire that decimated the supermarket.
The council hopes to encourage the availability of fresh, nutritious food to its underserved population by making it more readily available to those with limited transportation within the city. Currently, residents must drive to nearby Allen Park or Dearborn to reach a supermarket.
In addition to making fresh, healthy food more readily available, the stated purpose of the ordinance is to also provide a stronger mix of retail stores to revitalize Melvindale’s neighborhoods.
Future variety/small box stores will be prohibited unless the proposed store is more than 2,500 feet from a similar dollar store.
If the proposed site is more than 2,500 feet from another dollar store, its conditional use will be by permit only.
A Conditional Use Permit will be predicated by its likely detrimental impact on the development of grocery stores selling fresh and healthy foods in the area served by the proposed retail establishment. The availability of a grocery store within a half mile of the proposed store will have an impact on approval as well.
A Conditional Use Permit must stipulate that 15 percent minimum of the floor space will be dedicated to fresh produce, meat and dairy products.