Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Deerfield retail growth hits a snag

Township panel turns down plan for shops along Mason-Montgomery Road

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Residents concerned about holding southern Warren County's growth in check claimed a victory when the township zoning commission rejected plans for more retail development along Mason-Montgomery Road.

Monday night's unanimous denial of the northern portion of Shoppes of Deerfield comes just weeks after the commission gave conditional approval to preliminary plans for the south part of the site, including a controversial 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Both the north and south site plans still have to go to the Deerfield Township trustees for ultimate approval or denial.

"The residents are crying out because we're feeling the pinch of all this rampant growth," said Tonya Hines, among residents who have expressed concerns about traffic, storm water runoff and other quality of life issues.

"We realize this is a small victory. The biggest issue is still retail saturation and whether that Wal-Mart is the right use for that keystone piece of property on Mason-Montgomery Road."

The zoning commission had concerns that the northern part of Shoppes of Deerfield, which included four retail structures and three restaurants on 15.5 acres, did not integrate with the surroundings, including park space and a neighboring apartment complex. They also felt the development failed to meet the general welfare provisions of a planned unit development, according to commission member Don de Reynier.

"We didn't see where this was bringing anything new, exciting or additional to the residents of the township," he said. "There's little attempt to do anything in exchange for it being a PUD. We didn't see any particularly creative aspects to the plan."

Attorney Joseph Trauth, who is representing the developer Vandercar Holdings Inc., said Tuesday that the commission should have tried to work out any concerns, not just deny the plans.

"The property is properly zoned for what we are asking for," Trauth said. "We think they are wrong. We are going to try and get it worked out with the trustees."

Township trustees will be reviewing plans for the south site and Supercenter March 31 and April 1.


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