Saturday, June 19, 2004

Rude greeting for Wal-Mart

Developers regroup as hurdles rise

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Developers of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter are regrouping after a township trustee sliced and diced their plans this week.

Likening the Shoppes of Deerfield proposal to a pig "in a silk suit," Trustee Lee Speidel said that he wants to remove a 20,000-square-foot outlying retail building and a 7,000-square-foot restaurant from the picture.

Speidel also wants to take out one of the access roads, even after developers said that the county engineer was requiring it.

These were among the 11th-hour changes suggested Thursday night as part of an eight-month public debate over the south part of the Shoppes plan.

The proposal for land along Mason-Montgomery Road proposes a 203,000-square-foot Supercenter, the retail building and five restaurants.

"This property is right in the heart of Deerfield Township," Speidel said. "It is vitally important to this township that that corridor's property values be maintained."

Developers took a few minutes to discuss the changes among themselves before asking the trustees to end the meeting and continue the conversation at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"To eliminate 27,000 square feet makes this project economically unfeasible," Steven Miller of Vandercar Holdings Inc., a partner in this project, told trustees.

"Developers met Friday with township officials.

Township residents have scrutinized the plan since it was first proposed last October, with many saying it will bring too much traffic to one of Warren County's most-traveled roadways.

They also have asked township officials to deny the plans because of storm-water runoff and quality-of-life concerns.

The zoning commission recommended trustees tack on 44 conditions if they approve the plan.

Trustee Barbara Wilkens Reed has abstained from all these proceedings because of her family's interest in nearby properties. Therefore, the Shoppes proposal will need to get the approval of both Speidel and Trustee Randy Kuvin to move forward.

If the two trustees cannot come to a consensus, the proposal will fail and the issue could wind up in court.


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