By Dennis Minich
The “are they or aren’t they” question about Aldi opening a store in Harrisonville seemed to be definitely answered last Thursday when officials from the grocery chain sought replatting of property it has purchased at the intersection of Mechanic and Westchester streets, across from the Casey’s Truckstop.
There were rumors earlier this year that Aldi was surveying land in the area. There was also a social media post saying they would soon be serving the 64701-zip code. But company officials at that time denied a plan was in progress. It was later mentioned by some involved in the development that concerns about traffic in the area had caused Aldi to reconsider its plans.
But whatever the reason, the situation seems to be resolved as Roger Stemmons, the director of real estate for Aldi confirmed, “If we can get everything approved, we will be here.”
Stemmons explained they wanted to divide the plat so they could sell part of the land to another business, possibly a fast-food chain.
The biggest stumbling block to the development remains the traffic flow, a problem Community Development Planner Roger Kroh said would be handled “with a band-aid” approach at first.
“There needs to be a signal light, but that is 2 Highway so it is up to MoDOT and right now it is not on MoDOT’s radar. The city engineer has come up with a full-intersection improvement plan that should work until MoDOT comes in,” he said.
He added the cost for the state to do all of the lanes and signaling necessary would be around $3 million.
Kroh said staff was concerned about the traffic to the extent it could have been a deal breaker.
“But we determined the value of having an Aldi’s outweighs the problems,” he said.
With the temporary improvements, right turns from Winchester onto Mechanic should actually improve from the current wait time of 25.5 seconds during peak traffic. Left turns, however, could become even longer, maybe up to 70 seconds.
The replatting was approved, but there are several steps to go through before any construction can begin. Stemmons said he thinks the store could be open by late next year or in early 2021.
The commission also approved a special-use permit for an expanded dormitory area for Joshua House at 2200 Anaconda Rd. Joshua House works with men with addiction or other problems and to help then get their lives straightened out. The existing house can hold about six to eight residents, but there is a waiting list for their services.
Jeff Parnan and Taylor Hastings from Joshua House answered questions about the proposal which is for a two-story structure would could serve as living space for 22 residents.
Parman told the commission, “We are privately owned, Christ centered and self-sustaining. We are not looking for any grants or tax abatements, just permission.”
It was emphasized the location is ideal for that type of facility as it is on the edge of the city and close to many jobs available in the industrial area.
Among those speaking in support of the plan was Mike Voght, the owner of Staying at Home, a manufacturing plant next to the proposed site and Judges Bill Collins and Mike Rumley.
The special use permit was granted for 10 years.
In other action, the board heard plans for the how the city is considering zoning marijuana retailers once medical marijuana sales become legalized.