Thursday, January 8, 2004

Some want to shut door on retail


Neighbors of Harrison Ave. protest rezoning, gridlock

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GREEN TWP. - In the latest boom area on the western side of Hamilton County - the northwest part of this township - any development that could add to traffic congestion on Harrison Avenue near the Interstate 74 interchange creates a stir among nearby residents.

A Tuesday evening discussion with the Hamilton County Rural Zoning Commission staff about a 75,000-square-foot retail store here drew 30 residents adamantly against any more development along the busy Harrison Avenue corridor.

"All these people bought out here because it was residential, it was a neighborhood," said Ed Lampe, who lives in the Chateau Lakes subdivision, near the proposed store and about a mile from the new Meijer and Kohl's development here. "Don't we have any right to keep it that way?"

As Russell Sparks, zoning administrator for the Hamilton County Rural Zoning Commission, tried to extract the residents' specific concerns, exchanges became increasingly heated about the zoning change for the property between Blue Lake Drive and Valley Ridge Road from residential to commercial.

"Green Township, regardless of what the trustees believe, doesn't need more retail," said Fred Betz, a Chateau Lakes resident. "There's not too much we can do about retail that's down there already, but we sure don't need any more traffic."

"If we're adding another big box retailer, all we're going to have is gridlock," said Valley Ridge resident Pat Zehnder, who says it takes her as much as 25 minutes to drive the Harrison Avenue hill near the interstate during rush hour.

The zoning change and proposed development for the property, an old used-car lot, comes as an engineering consulting firm begins its study of the economic potential, traffic patterns and aesthetics of the busiest still-developing road in one of Ohio's most populated townships.

Charles E. Mitchell, an attorney representing the property owners, said the exact retailer for the property has not been nailed down.

On Monday, Mitchell was appointed to serve the remaining two years of the recently vacated trustee position here. He said he will back off representing the land owners on the zoning change, saying it appeared to be a conflict of interest.

Mitchell understands the residents' concerns about traffic - his law offices are just up the street.

"A number of these people just don't want anything to happen there," Mitchell said. "But unfortunately, something is going to happen. We just want it to be as friendly as possible with the nearby community."

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




TOP STORIES
West-siders still stand by Pete
Concealed carry bill awaits Taft
Concealed carry rules
More stores sold gas-tainted kerosene
Water recedes, cleanup begins

IN THE TRISTATE
Boone County schools chief likes to be prepared
AK Steel to build fence in pollution dispute
Killer to stay in tight security
Warren explores performing arts school
Blue Ash golfers can buy cold one
From the state capitals
Debate over halting killings splits council
Jolivette, Combs may swap
Harmony says sad goodbye to founder
Some want to shut door on retail
New hospital's scope still unclear
Trial gives look into drug life
Reservists off to Kuwait
News briefs
Husband, 85, charged in slaying
Public safety
In the schools
No jail in attack on local guide dog
Around the Tristate

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Visions of sugar plums? Not exactly
Lab buyout could result in moving it to Boone County
Senior citizens, students mingle

LIVES REMEMBERED
Thomas Rumpke ran family business

KENTUCKY STORIES
Coast Guard studying accident
Panel looks for good ideas
Kimmich bows out of county's top job
D.C. group airing ads touting Kerr