Friday, June 25, 2004

Deerfield OKs Supercenter, with conditions

By Erica Solvig
Enquirer Staff Writer

DEERFIELD TWP. - It took seven hours of wrangling over everything from the look of the building to the number of parking spaces, but Deerfield Township trustees finally gave approval to a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Final plans for the 203,000-square-foot building and the preliminary plans for outlying buildings were approved at 12:30 a.m. Thursday. But approval came with nearly 50 conditions- including that the supercenter's facade and fuel station still need additional approval.

The decision comes after eight months of public debate. It basically allows the southern part of the Shoppes of Deerfield center to be built along Mason-Montgomery Road between a Kroger shopping center and a Rookwood Commons-type development.

Deerfield is among at least nine planned or proposed sites for new Wal-Mart Supercenters in Greater Cincinnati. There has also been vocal opposition to the retail giant in communities including Harrison and Milford.

The Deerfield compromise didn't leave everyone happy.

"I think the township made a big mistake in allowing this to go in because now, in all those back fields near Wilkens Boulevard, developers can come in and say 'You let Wal-Mart get that close,' " resident Tonya Hines said of the trustees allowing a 141-foot setback because residents wanted 700 feet. "We've set a precedent here."

Attorney Timothy Mara, who represents more than 40 residents who oppose the plans, says "it's likely" that an appeal will be filed in the courts.

Project engineer David Oakes, of Dayton-based CESO Engineers and Surveyors, said after the vote that developers were disappointed about the 1,350-parking-spot cap that trustees put on the entire site - one of the major sticking points in the deal. Original plans called for close to 1,600 spots. "We thought it was appropriate to get through this process," Oakes said of compromising on parking.

Among the other compromises was the number of outlots. Trustees agreed to allow no more than four sit-down, freestanding restaurants or three such eateries and one bank with a drive-through. The entire site can have no more than 251,000 square feet of building space.

Randy Kuvin and Lee Speidel were the only two trustees who could vote on the issue. The third trustee, Barbara Wilkens-Reed, has abstained because of her family's interest in nearby properties.

Kuvin in the final hours pushed for a compromise between the developers' wants and the conditions that Speidel suggested during last week's meeting.

The trustees' decision Thursday morning is far from the last this township will hear about Wal-Mart. The building's facade must get trustees' approval, and if they cannot come to a decision, the building elevation will have the look of a Wal-Mart in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Additionally, the site plan for the Wal-Mart fuel center needs to go back to the zoning commission and then ultimately the trustees. A lawyer representing residents who oppose the plan also plans to appeal trustees' decision to the courts.


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