Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Residents decry 'big box'

Vow referendum if rezoning approved

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GREEN TWP. - Residents in homes and condominiums off Harrison Avenue in this western Hamilton County community are stepping up opposition to a zoning change for a proposed 75,000-square-foot retail "big box" development that would abut their properties.

Some 50 residents at a Green Township meeting Monday night said that if the zoning change, from residential to commercial, makes it through the approval process, they will obtain thousands of signatures to put a referendum on the ballot that would stop it.

"We all know this property is going to be developed; we just want it to be done in a way that's compatible with the community," said Jerry Ferguson, president of the Chateau Lakes View Condominium Association.

This comes as a consulting company begins a study on the Harrison Avenue corridor, which will be complete by summer and will suggest what types of businesses are best suited for the busy four-mile strip in Green Township.

Nearby residents say the big box development - which has yet to be named, doesn't belong so close to homes. They fear a big-box store will hurt property values, as well as bring unwanted noise, light, traffic and storm runoff to the area.

At the township meeting Monday, trustees disagreed how to deal with the zoning change amendment for the 11-acre tract less than a mile from Interstate 74.

Trustee Tony Upton said the township would lose any control over the type of structure if it didn't approve the zoning change with a list of more than a dozen building recommendations.

"If you have these recommendations, then you can be at the table when the county is making the decision," Upton said. "Otherwise, we'd have no standing with the county."

Trustee Stephen Grote disagreed, saying he's against any big-box store in an area more conducive to small retail or residential development.

"This is a part of Harrison Avenue that's known as neighborhood retail," said Grote.

"There's no reason to put that big of a building on that site," Grote said. "We don't need to carve up every piece of land on Harrison Avenue just because you can."

New Trustee Chuck Mitchell did not participate because he is a former attorney for the property owner, Jack Geiler.

The zoning change will go before the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Feb. 5, then the rural zoning commission on Feb. 19.


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