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2004-07-16
Green, OH. Citizen Opposition Turns Vote Against Lowe's

Residents in Green Township, Ohio have at least temporarily sidestepped a big box planned for their community. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer this week, a 150,000-square-foot Lowe's Home Improvement center on Harrison Pike may get hammered by county officials. The Hamilton County commissioners said during a public hearing this week that they would "likely deny" a request from developers to rezone 18 acres for the Lowe's store. The County Commissioners are expected to take their final vote on the proposal on August 4th. The Commissioner's decision comes on the heels of a 2-2 vote in June by the county's Rural Zoning Commission, which amounted to a denial of the project. To overturn the denial by the Zoning Commission, the County Commissioners would need to muster a unanimous vote -- something which Lowe's cannot buy. The reason? Citizen opposition rung up "no sale" on the project. "There has been a very strong showing (of opposition) from residents," one Commissioner told the newspaper. "I feel that it is their community and they have the right to decide what kind of community they want." Green residents said the development, which is located near several subdivisions, is too big for the area. The same residents 4 years ago defeated an effort to rezone the same property for a store that was never identified. "This project is totally out of scale with the surrounding area," one resident explained. According to the newspaper, companies like Wal-Mart, Bigg's and Lowe's "have been struggling to get a foothold." But not to worry about the Big Company: Wal-Mart is scattering plenty of seeds. They have nine supercenters proposed or under construction in Greater Cincinnati. Two towns, Harrison and Milford, are fighting Wal-Mart. The paper quotes Al Norman of Sprawl-Busters as saying, "The companies are pushing harder and communities are pushing harder back," Norman said. "Nobody wants to live next to these supercenters. They are the retail equivalent of a nuclear power plant." The landowner, who has lost big box proposals twice now, told the Enquirer, "We have a right to develop this land. Because a small number of residents have made a lot of noise, we are being denied our rights as property owners."

What you can do: Developers and landowners trying to squeeze every ounce of profit off their land always say they are being thwarted by a vocal minority of residents. Even when Wal-Mart is defeated at the polls by 60% of the voters, they keep saying a minority pushed them over. In Green township, this landowner dropped his plans for a rezoning after local residents in 2000 collected enough signatures to put the rezoning on a referendum. Citizens have the right to object to projects that are too big, and in the wrong location. In this case, their elected officials recognized that right. The landowners still have the right to develop their land, but not by placing a building three times the size of a football field next to a residential subdivision. As the county Commissioner said of the citizen's group: "it is their community and they have the right to decide what kind of community they want."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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