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Staff file photo by Erin O. Smith / Red Bank city commissioners voted to deny a special exceptions permit that would have allowed ImmunoTek Bio Centers to open a plasma collection facility at the site previously occupied by a Save A Lot grocery store on Dayton Boulevard.

Red Bank city commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a special exceptions permit to ImmunoTek Bio Centers, which planned to open a blood plasma collection facility at the former Save a Lot grocery site on Dayton Boulevard.

The city's zoning ordinance requires a permit for any clinic operating on a site that abuts a residential district, and the Red Bank Planning Commission previously endorsed the permit and recommended approval.

Commissioner Tyler Howell said he based his decision to deny the permit on "compatibility issues with the surrounding residential areas."

The site at 2101 Dayton Blvd. has been a grocery store for decades, housing a Kroger before Save a Lot.

"I believe the vision of Red Bank is to attract homeowners and businesses that will support those homeowners, and I don't believe this serves our purposes," Commissioner Carol Rose said of ImmunoTek as she seconded Howell's motion to deny the permit.

Numerous citizens spoke in opposition to the plasma collection center at the commission's meeting Tuesday night, and applauded the commission for denying the permit.

Among those opposed to the center was Doug Downey, owner of the building across the street from the site where his parents had operated Downey's Florist for more than 50 years. He said he recently put the property up for sale and the buyer backed out of the contract, giving the potential for a plasma center opening nearby as one reason.

"I think that if we allow this to go into the city of Red Bank, we will see the lowest moment that the city of Red Bank has ever experienced," he said.

Andrea Abercrombie said her physical therapy business is located on Dayton Boulevard about a quarter of a mile from the proposed site of the plasma collection center, which is within walking distance of her home. She said she would not have purchased a home in the city or relocated her business there if that type of business had been there at the time.

Other reasons residents cited for their opposition included the nature of the business, the types of people they think it would attract, and negative effects they believe plasma collection centers have had on areas such as Brainerd and Rossville Boulevard.

Commissioners also voted to place a six-month moratorium on blood plasma collection centers, laboratories and similar businesses to give the city time to review its zoning ordinances and identify areas where such facilities would be appropriate.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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Staff file photo by Erin O. Smith / Red Bank city commissioners voted to deny a special exceptions permit that would have allowed ImmunoTek Bio Centers to open a plasma collection facility at the site previously occupied by a Save A Lot grocery store on Dayton Boulevard.
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