Friday, February 13, 2004

Milford's planners reject zone change for Wal-Mart

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

MILFORD - Supporters of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Milford suffered a setback Wednesday night.

The city Planning Commission voted unanimously against a rezoning proposal for the proposed Wal-Mart on Ohio 28. A crowd of 375 people packed the Milford Firefighters Community Hall for the vote.

The final decision rests now with City Council.

"That area is a gateway to Milford, and as a gateway, it should reflect the character of Milford, a small bedroom community," said Tracey Meade, vice chair of the commission. "A 'big box' development does not reflect that and makes it look like any other exit off the freeway."

The Wal-Mart store also has been a hot-button issue with downtown merchants, who are concerned about losing business if the mega-retailer opens on the outskirts of town.

The proposal, which asks for a zoning change and planned unit development designation to build the 203,000-square-foot store on a 37-acre lot occupied primarily by the Theilman Mobile Home Park, will likely go before City Council for a public hearing on April 6.

Council could have a final vote on it as early as April 20, said Jeff Wright, assistant city manager.

Because of the Planning Commission's recommendation against the project, five of City Council's seven members must vote for approval to overturn the decision, Wright said.

Council members have declined to comment on the proposal until it is before them.

Bob and Bernice Mathis, a Milford couple, said they were happy with the Planning Commission's decision. But they expect they'll have to move from their home in the Theilman Park whether Wal-Mart's proposal is approved or not.

"I hope the big shots down there in Milford realize we don't need a Wal-Mart here," said Bob Mathis, 84.


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