Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Wal-Mart rezoning vote set tonight

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

TURTLECREEK TWP. - Larona Bailey's newest neighbor could be Wal-Mart.

"We kind of like our piece of country out of town," the 24-year resident of Turtlecreek Township said. "If we get Wal-Mart across the street, it is going to be a racetrack out here."

Tonight, Lebanon City Council will vote on a zoning change for a nearly 58-acre parcel, which could enable developers to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The planned development has raised the ire of many along two-lane U.S. 42, which could see more traffic from shoppers. Wal-Mart expansion plans have triggered similar opposition elsewhere in Greater Cincinnati recently, including Milford in Clermont County and Deerfield Township in Warren County.

With several empty commercial buildings in Lebanon, Bailey doesn't understand why Wal-Mart wants to develop on the former farmland, which has been annexed into the city.

"It just makes no sense to leave plazas empty all over town, then build out here," she said.

But according to city councilman and ordinance sponsor J. Matthew Rodriguez, developing that parcel of land is part of the city's comprehensive plan for development and could help recoup the nearly 300 retail jobs the city has recently lost.

"It's not like council went to Wal-Mart and negotiated the sale of the land," he said. "That particular land was made available by the owner."

If the ordinance is approved tonight, developers still have to return to the planning board with building plans.

"We're not out for sporadic or aggressive growth like Mason," Rodriguez said.

Still, Bailey hopes for a strong community presence at the council meeting, since "whether they are for it or against it, they need to come and voice their opinion."

"Lebanon wants to stay a quaint, unique town," she said. "It's going to end up like Fields-Ertel Road. They call it progress. I really don't feel that way."

If You Go

What: Lebanon city council meeting

When: Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Council chambers, on the second floor of Lebanon's City Building, 50 South Broadway St.

Television: Council meetings are broadcast on Channel 6 of the Lebanon Telecommunications System.


E-mail jgambrell@fuse.net

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