Thursday, June 10, 2004

Residents wary of dealer

Joseph group's answer: More is less, really

By Zachary Fox
Enquirer contributor

MONTGOMERY - Residents concerned about the impact of a new Joseph Chevrolet dealership are challenging the proposal.

During this week's meeting, the city planning commission released a memo that listed 21 concerns, ranging from increased traffic to a perceived overabundance of dealerships in the area, raised by the public, to be addressed by the Joseph Auto Group.

"The first problem is a balance with the community," said Suzan Capozzoli, a Montgomery resident. "If we're not careful, it could become another Beechmont Avenue," said Capozzoli, who also expressed safety concerns over the test-driving of vehicles on residential roads.

"Definitely, Mr. (Ronald) Joseph is going to make it a policy to have his people not test-drive on residential streets," responded C. Francis Barrett, the lawyer handling the final development plan for the Joseph Auto Group.

Barrett also said that while the company will address all 21 of the public's complaints, he considers the concern that there will be too many auto dealerships to be a non-issue.

There are five Joseph-owned dealerships in this northeastern Hamilton County city, one of which is Joseph's Montgomery Chevrolet in the Heritage District. The development plan is for that Chevrolet dealership to be moved from its current location and replace the Joseph Auto Outlet, which sells used vehicles.

"We're reducing the number of dealerships and taking one out of the Heritage District," said Barrett. "This is a plus for the city of Montgomery. It's not an increase, it's a decrease."

The community members have expressed concern that the Chevrolet dealership will attract more dealerships and create an "auto mall" that will vastly increase traffic. The city also hosts dealerships for Honda, Jaguar and Cadillac, and an Audi dealership is under construction.

"If this were the end of the dealerships, that would be fine. But once you start having them come in, where does it stop?" Capozzoli said.

Some of the other major concerns that the Planning Commission outlined in its list of complaints from the community and from representatives of the nearby Twin Lakes Retirement Community were water runoff, noise from Dumpster removal and delivery trucks, and the effects of lighting on surrounding areas.

A new plan that will address, but not necessarily solve, the 21 concerns will be presented to the planning commission in time for its next public meeting, June 21, Barrett said.

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