After weeks of discussions and public input, Fort Wayne City Council voted to approve an amendment for Fort Wayne city code to limit construction of gas stations in residential areas.

The purpose of this change to municipal code, per council documents, is to prevent gas stations and convenience stores from building in certain residential areas without special permission.

Council member Glynn Hines, D-6th District, who led the proceedings for this agenda item, explained that he and many other community leaders hoped this would encourage more grocery stores to build near certain residential areas. Hines stated in previous meetings that there appeared to be a trend where grocery stores didn’t usually want to set up shop near gas stations, causing food deserts in some areas of the city.

Although this argument held weight with the council, many of the members were willing to meet with representatives from area gas stations and oil companies that were concerned about the hit their businesses could take from this new rule.

As a result, during the committee session on March 26, a new, “friendly” amendment was added to the ordinance to serve as a compromise. This new amendment stated that gas stations would be allowed to request “special use,” privileges of the council to build in most places except on properties directly across the street from a residence.

“This compromise balances that and actually gives the incentive to locate in commercial areas where there’s greater oversight,” Russ Jehl, R-2nd District, said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the leadership… I really need to commend the gas station industry for coming to the table and rather than having contentious discussions this evening, having compromise.”

The amendment was accepted, and the ordinance itself was moved to the regular session agenda and received an 8-1 approval. Jason Arp, R-4th District, voted in opposition of the ordinance.

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