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Village Vision News

Garden center to move into old Harley-Davidson building

Thursday, July 25, 2013

An old building is getting new life as a business finalizes its plans to come to town. The business, Connie’s Country Greenhouse, is expanding with the purchase of a long-vacant structure at 350 S. Route 51.

That building, known to many as the old location of Coziahr’s Harley-Davidson and before that as home to Isringhausen Imports, has looked a bit neglected and very empty in a pretty prominent spot in the village for about a decade.

The owners are Connie Burgett and her son, Elliott Burgett. The plan is to have the business up and running for the autumn season. While Connie Burgett has been in business for about 20 years, this is something of a new concept as they plan to call their Forsyth location Connie’s Garden Center.

Bruce Campbell, representing the Burgetts, spoke before the board July 15 after first appearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission the previous week. The occasion was to ask for a variance that would allow for display and storage of an assortment of trees, shrubs and other landscape stone and gardening materials both inside the building and outside in the parking lot of the business.

In offering some background on the business, which is based in Latham, Campbell said it has a customer base that draws from a 65-mile radius. Noteworthy customers, he said, include South Side Country Club, Country Club of Decatur and the Champaign Park District. Campbell also said the business will have a “major impact at the Farm Progress Show this fall at Richland Community College.”

Annual sales revenue projections are in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, according to Campbell, who added that all plans for signage and parking are already within the codes of current zoning regulations.

Village Administrator Mike Miller, during the initial appearance before the Planning and Zoning Commission, offered this: “It would add to the diversity of the retail options here because we don’t have anything like it in Forsyth. It would be a welcome addition.”

Michael Brown of neighboring Brown’s Truck Accessories addressed the Planning and Zoning Commission briefly to lend support to the project.

“We’d be very glad to see some retail businesses join us there,” Brown said. “It’s been a long time (since the building has been occupied).”

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended the project be approved by the board.

During the meeting with the board, Trustee Bob Gruenewald expressed concern that with the location being on the village’s main thoroughfare that the business remain tidy, especially given the nature of some of the bulk materials that will be available for sale there.

“We don’t want to deflect any customers away,” Elliott Burgett said. “We would keep it looking nice.”

Village Attorney Jeff Jurgens then suggested that the upkeep of the property should be part of the agreement. Trustees agreed on three criteria: 1) clean and neat condition of the property, 2) containment of bulk sales products and 3) a tree line be planted to serve as a border between the business and its residential neighbors.

Elliott Burgett said the goal is to make the building look better without any demolition.

“This fall, we’re going to start remodeling inside and out,” he said.

Plans also call for an attached greenhouse on the rear of the building. Bulk piles of product will also be kept behind the location.

Ordinance No. 886 was passed unanimously. Mayor Marilyn Johnson enthusiastically thanked Connie Burgett: “We are looking forward to having you in Forsyth.”

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