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OK COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT? HIGHLAND RESIDENTS, OFFICIALS SPLIT

A proposal to change city ordinances to allow some commercial development met with varied reaction Wednesday night.

But everyone agreed on one thing: It is a heated and emotional issue.In one camp is the Planning Commission led by Ed Scott. After 18 months and hundreds of man-hours spent working on a community survey, the Planning Commission wants to change existing ordinances to allow up to ten acres of property within Highland city limits to be developed commercially.

On the other hand, there are citizens like Peggy Ockler who feel that something like a grocery store would be just fine but not in her back yard.

The area proposed for development, called the four corners, is next to Ockler's property, and she fears that vandalism and traffic will have adverse effects on her animals and property.

"It's more a question of where to build, not whether we should or not," she said.

And in the middle of the confusion, the Highland City Council feels a decision to look at commercial development needs to be made - sometime in the future.

The situation was accelerated when AG Foodstores, in association with the Woodbury Corp., submitted a proposal to build a grocery store in Highland. The grocery store would give residents a convenient place to make purchases in their own community and would increase the tax base.

Currently, no commercial property exists within Highland city limits.

Highland legally had 30 days to respond to the proposal. On July 2, the Planning Commission could be forced to apologize for surpassing the deadline by about a month, and refuse to allow the grocery store because city ordinance does not allow development.

Councilman Ken Monson feels Highland has survived this long without any commercial property and will be able to survive a little longer. This is an attitude shared by most of the City Council.

Councilman Carry Rhodes said such a change might be too drastic for Highland.

"You are asking us to move from not allowing commercial property to allowing commercial property. That is just too fast for me," he said.

Mayor James Hewlett, however, said the issue must be considered.

"It's a big issue and it's not an easy one," he said. "But we owe all the respondents to this survey an answer."

Hewlett has scheduled the commercial development issue for the City Council agenda indefinitely "until we come to grips with this and make a decision," he said.

The survey was sent to 1,050 Highland residents and approximately 600 responded. Overall results show that 70 percent of the respondents are in favor of some commercial development, mainly a grocery store or some small retail shops and minor services.

The respondents also favored locating the commercial zone in the four-corners area, about 77 percent. But 80 percent were opposed to any development in their own neighborhoods.