Ruby’s Pantry receives permit
Food program moves into former cheese plant
By Angie Landsverk
The former Churny’s Cheese building on Waupaca’s west side will become a Ruby’s Pantry food distribution center.
The common council approved Home and Away Ministries’ request for a conditional use permit when it met on June 1.
The council’s vote was 9-1, with Ald. Lori Chesnut voting against it.
“I’m just going to urge caution,” Chesnut said prior to the vote. “We promise safety and protection and I think we always need to remember this.”
The permit for the property at 705 W. Fulton St. will limit Home and Away Ministries to a maximum of 15 tractor trailers per day for distribution.
“It went from five to seven and now 15,” said Chesnut, who lives in that area of city.
Lyn Sahr is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit.
“There might be five or six trucks leaving on a Saturday morning,” he told the council.
Fifteen is the maximum number because they do not want to be in violation of the agreement, Sahr said.
If trucks are going to Chicago to pick up food, they will leave Waupaca at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., he said.
“We don’t foresee traffic jams or anything like that taking place,” Sahr said.
Mayor Brian Smith said 15 is the total number of vehicles allowed per day.
A truck that goes into the parking lot counts as one and when that same truck leaves, that also counts as one.
Sahr said they have five drivers in Waupaca right now.
Among the conditions of the permit is that 24-hour deliveries and the operation of tractor trailers is allowed.
This includes a prohibition against loud and disturbing noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., with the operation of refrigerated tractor trailers allowed only on Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Sahr said they will use the side of the building that is next to the Neuville Motors property.
The parking lot is big enough that they will not need to back into it, he said.
Chesnut expressed concerns about whether the center will affect traffic.
She is one of the representatives of this part of the city on the common council.
Chesnut noted the amount of vehicular traffic at the intersection of Fulton Street and Hillcrest Drive, as well as the number of pedestrians and bicyclists in the neighborhood.
“How much study went into looking at the traffic there?” she asked. “I’m very concerned and the neighbors are about how you’re going to approach Fulton Street.”
The mayor noted the street is State Highway 49.
Justin Berrens, the director of public works, said he contacted the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) about traffic patterns there and truck movements.
“They had zero concerns,” he said. “The DOT said there is not enough traffic and trucks to be concerned.”
Sahr said trucks will turn left onto Fulton Street when they leave the driveway.
U.S. Highway 10 is the ministry’s main artery.
In addition, Berrens contacted Strand Associates, an engineering firm.
“They also said this number of trucks is not a concern to them,” he said.
The city’s zoning code update now allows a distribution center like Ruby’s Pantry to be located there as a conditional use.
The mayor said there was a long discussion about it at the Plan Commission level.
“I feel comfortable with what we have,” Smith said.
He said there will be a learning curve as people are used to the building being closed.
The conditional use permit includes the stipulation that the operation will be reviewed by the Plan Commission six months after occupancy.
Home and Away Ministries expects construction to take about four months, so the six-month period will be triggered after the work is completed and the center’s operation begins.
“We did everything we could to protect the city, but welcome the applicant to its new location,” Smith said.