LANCASTER — Lancaster City Council unanimously approved a key step Monday toward getting a Dollar General Market built within the city limits.
The zoning for the proposed grocery store site at 303 Stanford St. was industrial, but after Monday’s action, the zoning is commercial. Now, Vantage Engineering of Harrodsburg can continue surveying as well as drafting plans for the 3.35-acre site. Officials hope the Dollar General Market, which sells groceries, clothing and toiletries, will be open before the end of the year.
Preliminary plans call for 106 parking spaces. The site, at the corner of Crab Orchard Street, is within walking distance of virtually all houses within the city limits, said Lancaster Mayor Brenda Powers.
Powers expressed special thanks for Nathan Mick, Garrard County economic development director, who was instrumental in getting a grocery store to consider coming to Lancaster.
“We need a grocery store really, really bad, and we also need a clothing store,” Powers said.
In other business, the last part of the meeting deteriorated when council members and the mayor reviewed the first reading of the proposed 2012-’13 budget. Powers and Councilman Bret Baerlein recommended the city give $10,000 to the Industrial Development Authority for economic development.
Councilman Brandon McGlone accused Baerlein of being “underhanded” and said the last-minute proposal seemed directly related to a recent controversy over Mick’s salary.
Mick earns $68,500 a year and under a proposed county budget stood to earn $69,360 in fiscal year 2012-’13.
But last month at a Garrard County Fiscal Court meeting, magistrates Joe Leavell, Fred Simpson and Betty Holtzclaw voted against the proposed budget because they felt Mick earns too much money. Though all three denied their actions were politically motivated, their questions about his salary came up right before Mick faced Lancaster farmer Jonathan Shell in a Republican primary election for 36th District state representative. Garrard Judge-Executive John Wilson, who along with retiring 36th District Rep. Lonnie Napier had endorsed Mick for the position, said the magistrates’ actions were a “cheap shot.”
Mick, who is married to Lancaster City Council member Maggie Mick, lost the primary election.
This morning, Garrard Fiscal Court will have a special meeting and hopes to agree on the first reading of the 2012-’13 budget.
During Lancaster City Council’s Monday night meeting, Baerlein said the IDA initially wanted $15,000.
McGlone pressed for answers as to how the money would be spent, at times raising his voice. At one point, he told Baerlein, “Don’t roll your eyes.” Several times, McGlone said he felt the proposal was underhanded and an attempt to help fund Mick’s salary because three fiscal court magistrates are unlikely to vote to fully fund his position for 2012-’13.
“Don’t talk to me like that,” Baerlein said.
McGlone said his concerns are not necessarily about Mick as a person but that Mick does not work for the city and was not hired by the city.
“I love Nathan Mick,” McGlone said. “I love what he does. But this came out of nowhere.”
During the discussion, Stacy Grow, distribution director for the water department, made several heated comments from his seat in the audience.
“I’ve been working here for 12 years,” Grow said. “I don’t think that (giving the IDA money to help fund Mick’s salary) is fair to the city employees.”
Despite the controversy, council members passed the first reading of the 2012-’13 budget and set the second reading for 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Lancaster city hall. They did not cast a formal vote last night; council members reached a consensus without voting. They will vote on whether to accept the budget next week.