Rejection of Fresh Thyme by aldermen bewildering

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

We’re baffled by the Green Park Board of Aldermen’s rejection of a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market store proposed for the former site of the Tesson Ferry Branch County Library.

In October, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of a 28,900-square-foot store on the 2.38-acre site of the library, which closed in November. But aldermen voted 4-2 to reject the store later that month.

In November, aldermen rejected a revised proposal for a 28,650-square-foot store with the same 4-2 vote. In both votes, aldermen cited concerns about the size of the building, variances requested, additional traffic and the number of parking spaces.

But we’re not the only ones baffled by aldermen’s rejection of Fresh Thyme. Officials in neighboring cities have raised their eyebrows and questioned the judgment of Green Park aldermen opposed to the project, saying they would welcome the store with open arms to their city.

Aldermen’s rejections of Fresh Thyme’s proposal also have come over the objections of three Lin Ferry Drive property owners who have been very vocal in their support of Fresh Thyme. Furthermore, more than 25 Lin Ferry Drive business owners have signed a letter urging aldermen to support Fresh Thyme’s proposal, including Call Publisher Debbie Baker.

Ironically, only one citizen — former Planning and Zoning Commission member Jonathan Byrd — has publicly opposed Fresh Thyme’s proposal. Byrd, a union organizer, told aldermen that Fresh Thyme is “not friendly to the labor and trade unions in this town. … We have a rat coming into this town …”

The planning panel voted unanimously Jan. 5 to recommend approval of a revised Fresh Thyme proposal that calls for a 28,000-square-foot store, along with numerous other changes from the original plan.

Aldermen were scheduled to conduct a public hearing on Fresh Thyme’s revised proposal Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

Mayor Bob Reinagel told the Call he planned to continue the public hearing to Monday, Jan. 25, after which aldermen would vote on Fresh Thyme’s plan.

We urge aldermen to approve Fresh Thyme’s plan as we believe the specialty grocery store would be an asset to the city and other local taxing entities. Moreover, we believe another rejection by aldermen would send the wrong message to businesses considering locating in Green Park.