Commercial Building Moratorium Divides Community

A moratorium on business permits for one area of Meridian has support on each side.

The Meridian City Council approved a moratorium on the issuance of commercial building permits in the midtown area. One hundred blocks are affected.

The action was prompted by an effort to open a Dollar General store in the heart of the historic district. Some business leaders and residents in the area are sharply divided on the issue.

Property upkeep is a high priority for longtime midtown resident, Jim Cantey. For the last thirty years he has lived in the same house on Poplar Springs Drive.

Cantey is one of many concerned residents from the area who oppose the opening of a Dollar General store within their neighborhood.

"Because you've got so many old homes that are historically located and they've been here a long time and they're beautiful homes, the more stuff like industrial or commercial stuff you get to them, it's going to destroy the value of them," said Cantey.

A patch of land at the corner of 24th Avenue and 18th Street is the proposed site for the new Dollar General. Perched along a main route for travel, contractors say the site is perfect, but many concerned residents disagree.

"Nobody wants a Dollar General next to their house," Cantey said.

However, many business leaders in the area have a different take on the issue.

"I really just don't understand why we're going to block like a 100 block area from businesses being able to develop when we're really talking about one business," said real estate agent Mike Heath.

Also, developers who just last week acquired a lease to reopen the restaurant that was D.T. Grinder's and then Midtown Grill are expressing major opposition to this latest move.

The question now is how much will the moratorium really affect business development within the area?

Stressing her willingness to work with residents in the area, Mayor Cheri Barry calls the moratorium bad for business and is vowing to veto it. That's expected to happened before the end of this week.

Meanwhile, District 5 councilman Bobby Smith says the moratorium is only a temporary fix. He says once city leaders adopt a plan that raises the required standards for commercial building within the district, the moratorium will be lifted.

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