A proposal to ease the number of gas stations built within city limits prompted more than an hour of discussion among City Council Tuesday night, but did not result in a vote.
The proposal amends Chapter 157 of the Municipal Code, and aims to bring down the number of zoning categories available to gas stations and thus, making it more difficult for gas stations to open in certain areas of the city using special exemptions or status.
Democratic 6th District councilman Glynn Hines has led the effort since late last year, and says it’s necessary for Fort Wayne’s quality of life. Hines highlighted the upcharging of essentials like milk and other products at gas stations compared to grocery stores which, in turn, leads to grocery stores setting up their business elsewhere, leading to a lack of access to healthy food and food deserts in certain areas.
“Gas stations have filled a vacuum left in the southeast due to grocery stores moving out, there’s a demand for grocery stores," said Hines. "There’s higher prices, lower quality food [at gas stations], and to test that, you just need to go there, purchase items and compare.”
Republican 3rd District councilman Tom Didier has been an opponent of the measure, saying he doesn’t want to stifle growth while using an existing local development as a hypothetical example.
“Say somebody wanted to put a gas station inside Northcrest Shopping Center… I don’t really see a big issue there; Coliseum Boulevard is a highway running through the city of Fort Wayne," Didier said. "If we pass the the way that is, you wouldn’t be able to put a gas station on that corner, for instance.”
Following lengthy discussions with members of the department of planning services and a mixed public comment from residents and business owners, the measure was tabled for two weeks.
At-large Republican councilman Tom Freistroffer struck a neutral tone, suggesting it’s a matter of getting residents and businesses on the same page.
The measure will return before council on Tuesday, March 26.