The Evansville City Council will vote tonight on a developer's plan to build a strip mall on the southeast side off of Covert Avenue. But the project is pitting some members of a church against members of the neighborhood.
The developer wants to build a rent-one store and restaurant space. But the crux of this whole controversy centers around a slab of concrete.
At the corner of McConnell and Covert, the abandoned house could be gone. The tree a few feet away could be too. But the small sliver of asphalt in between the two won't be.
"The church, we know what their point is," said Tom Littlepage, President of the Southeast Side Neighborhood Association. "We know they don't want to sell their property and that's fine."
It's not big enough to build anything on but it's just the right size to be a wedge between some people in this neighborhood and some members of this church.
They're squabbling over the parking lot Littlepage is standing on. The City Council will vote on a re-zoning request from a developer with plans to turn this plot of land into a strip mall.
The developer offered to buy the tiny parking lot from the church across the street but the church kicked that idea to the curb.
If and when the delivery trucks come, this could pose a problem in pavement paradise
"They have to go around the parking lot, that's the big issue," Littlepage said. "They have to come onto McConnell Avenue and that's where the big issue is."
Those church members against the development cite concerns about safety and traffic.
"We'll agree to disagree and they have a right not to sell their property," Littlepage said. "But in turn, when they do that, they have to realize that now you have vehicles that have to go around your property because you didn't sell that to them."
The parking lot's concrete is cracked and cratered. But here on the southeast side, it might as well be a solid stone wall.
"Regardless of what happens with the parking lot, I know the members in our neighborhood are going to use the businesses," Littlepage said. "That's what we want."
The church's legal team says some members will speak against the plan at tonight's city council meeting. Second Ward City Councilwoman Missy Mosby says she's in full support of the development.