A request was made to Steinbach City Council to allow retail in a 25-unit warehouse complex at 110 Industrial Road.
Stefan Hodelmann appeared before City Council at a public hearing this past Tuesday to explain his request for a conditional use permit.
"ROC Eastman is running out of space where they are, which is also in the industrial area. Their intention was to use units 9 and 10 for used book sales. And as I was doing this application, I was thinking of applying for a conditional use for the entire site just because I could be here six months down the road for somebody else that wants to use the frontage from Industrial Road as retail."
There were no objectors at that hearing.
Councillor Michael Zwaagstra moved to deny the request noting the industrial park is subsidized by the city specifically to attract industrial development and not commercial.
Though there is some precedent for retail in the industrial park, Zwaagstra says those requests were unique and individual. In one of the more recent examples, he notes the business was looking for a place where they could do both light manufacturing and retail.
Zwaagstra says the scope of this conditional use request is concerning, noting “Obviously, we want to support charities, that is a very noble request. The challenge here is that the request is for the entire property.”
He adds, “We don't want to create a retail strip mall, and this has the potential to do that if we allow retail there. Even if the current applicant doesn't have any intentions of doing that, this sticks to the property. If we approve this, then that means that from this point on, full retail is permitted on the entire property in all of the units and that significantly changes the character of the industrial park.”
Adding to that, Councillor Susan Penner says approving this request could negatively impact other developers who are working within zoning guidelines.
“What this does is it takes away retail opportunity from developers who have put up expensive commercial space in other areas. They are investing in our commercial areas, spending a lot, and then there is this retail space in a subsidized area, and it really makes it not a level playing field. It is really unfair actually."
Council voted unanimously to deny the request.