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2005-09-20
Fairfax, OH. Residents Seek To Block Wal-Mart On Industrial Land

Residents in Fairfax, Ohio have formed the group Fairfax First to stop the development of a proposed 200,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter. The land is located on the site of a former Ford transmission plant. Fairfax First reports that, "The developer of the property is Regency Centers, a Jacksonville, Florida developer. The property is zoned for industrial/warehouse/office buildings, with retail as a "conditional use." It is not zoned for "big-box" retail. For Wal-Mart to move in, Regency Centers would need to submit a proposal to the Fairfax Planning Commission. The Village will need to hold a public hearing and the Fairfax Village Council will need to vote to rezone within 60 days. Rezoning can be traditional rezoning (a longer process) or a PUD -- Planned Unit Development -- in which the developer proposes a mix of several things: some retail, some office, etc. Rezoning under a PUD is easier to obtain because it's not necessarily an extensive and permanent zoning change. (It also makes it possible for a developer to say "We promise we'll build an office park right after Wal-Mart goes in," but in two years, inform the Village of Fairfax it can't be done because no businesses want to have corporate offices adjacent to a 24 hour Wal-Mart.) To help the Village of Fairfax officials understand the long-term effects of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in their community, the Village has hired Gary Meisner of Meisner & Associates / Land Vision, a land use firm, as a consultant. Though Meisner has been hired by the Village of Fairfax and reportedly is accountable solely to them, Fairfax Council Meeting minutes and a report by CityBeat indicate that Regency Centers is paying his fee. The Village of Fairfax is hoping the new development will generate $350,000 or more income tax (by taxing employees who work at the site) per year. Whether some or any of that money is needed for flood management is unknown. The proposed development will affect residents of Fairfax (who face higher crime, lower property values, increased traffic, and a neighborhood that is less likely to be attractive to home buyers); residents of Hyde Park (who face the same problems); residents of Madisonville (who face the same problems); Oakley (which faces competition for Oakley's big boxes -- Meijer, Target, etc.), the City of Cincinnati (which will have to accommodate added traffic on Red Bank Road) and residents of Mariemont (who will see increased traffic, especially from shoppers cutting over from Wooster Pike.) A Cincinnati attorney, Tim Mara, has been involved in two local Wal-Mart rezoning battles: Milford OH and Harrison OH. The Milford Council voted to rezone to accommodate a Wal-Mart Supercenter, but Tim Mara challenged with a citizen petition and ballot initiative. The Harrison Council voted not to rezone, despite a $1 million financial inducement from Wal-Mart."

What you can do: Any rezoning in Fairfax can be appealed in court, and the timetable for this project will be thrown out the window. The tax estimates for this project are inaccurate, since they do not subtract lost taxes from other businesses that will close or reduce their employment, especially nearby grocery stores. For more information on the fight in Fairfax, contact Fairfax First. Fairfax First is a grass roots organization made up of neighbors from Fairfax, Madisonville, Mariemont, Hyde Park, and Cincinnati. "We're not backed by anyone or any organization. Our goal is to ensure the future of Fairfax - to let your councilmembers, self-motivated developers from New York and Florida, and Nationwide retailers that over here we're about Family, Friends, and our Future." The group can be reached at: Fairfax First, P.O. Box 9759, Cincinnati, OH 45209. Email them at: info@fairfaxfirst.org. Phone: (513) 588-4598.










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

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