Big Retailer Could Be Headed to Williamston

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The Williamston Plan Commission approved changes to the city's zoning ordinance Monday night that would allow Tractor Supply Co.'s plan to build a store in the city to move forward.

Now the amended zoning ordinance must be approved by the city council.

The farm supplies retailer is considering a new location at the corner of Williamston and Lynn roads just north of I-96.

"They would have approximately 25 jobs right there in the store," said Barbara Burke, executive director of the Williamston Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview before Monday's meeting, Burke said those jobs and the added tax money the store would bring make the development proposal attractive. A chamber survey shows support within the business community for the new store.

"They'd like to be here and we'd like them to be here," Burke said.

But before the former farmland becomes a farmers supply store, the mayor has some concerns.

"I don't know very many people who are upset about this, it's just how they're trying to do this," Mayor Kenneth Zichi said in an interview before the commission meeting.

The mayor says the way developers and the company are trying to "do this" is something he's reluctant to agree to: Forcing the city to change it's zoning laws.

"The intent of the zoning ordinance in that area of town is prevent a four lane road that looks like every other suburban development," Zichi said.

Zichi says he has no problem with bringing a Tractor Supply Company store to Williamston. But, he says, the company needs to do more to meet those zoning requirements, which would change the planned parking lot for the store and the direction the building faces.

Others on the city council say the company has already done enough.

"They've changed the design of the building, the color. They've added wrought iron to fit in the community. (And) landscaping, extensive landscaping," councilmember Michelle Hyne said.

Still, the mayor insists the city has to be extremely careful with what would become one of the most visible sites in the city.

"The way it's located on that corner is exactly that. It's the first thing you're going to see," Zichi said.

If a majority of the city coucil approves the amended zoning ordinance needed to make the store happen, plans for the store could move forward by early July.