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2005-11-23
Lorain, OH. Wal-Mart Defeated, Now Home Depot Next

There is no rest for the weary in Lorain, Ohio. Earlier this month, voters rejected a Wal-Mart supercenter at the polls, but now another big box store wants in, and once again citizens are preparing to take their case directly to the voters. A group called The Friends of Anna E. Martin, named in the memory of the land's former owner, opposes Liberty Development Co.'s plans to build Lighthouse Village plaza on 65 acres. The group has submitted their intent to circulate petitions for a referendum against the rezoning. They now must collect 1,443 signatures by December 21st. to place the issue on the November, 2006 ballot, which means Home Depot is going to cool their heels for nearly a year. The Lorain City Council this week approved rezoning of the property by a vote of 9-2, and approved the preliminary plans for the Lighthouse "Village" project. In a blatant attempt to attract political support among voters, the developer unveiled a list of potential tenants who would occupy this huge "Village", including Target, Olive Garden, Long Horn Steakhouse, Applebee's, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks and an International House of Pancakes. The developer also claimed (with unsubstantiated gross figures) that the project would create 950 jobs and generate $720,000 in annual real estate taxes. The Friends of Anna E. Martin say Martin's intention was not to build a shopping center on the land. Martin willed the property to the Lorain YWCA in the 1960s to be preserved in its natural state and used for women's and youth programs. ''All we're doing now is exercising our rights and taking this to the voters,'' the anti-Home Depot group said. ''All we want is for the original deed restrictions to be followed in the will.'' A Probate Judge ruled in 1994 that the Church on the North Coast could buy the property from the YWCA and had to adhere to the conditions of the will. The Judge also ruled the church could sell the property to Liberty Development contingent on City Council approving the rezoning. Liberty Development was also required to donate $1.2 million to local charities to satisfy Martin's wishes in the will. The developer told the media, ''We figured the residents were going to try to do something. There has been very little done with that land in the last 40 years, and there's going to be some people getting a lot of money from this (development) who need it.'' (Put the developer at the top of that list of "some people.")

What you can do: The owner of this land must be turning over in her grave. She left the property to the local YWCA, who sold it to a Church, and the Church is now trying to cash out big time. If this project goes to the voters, it will be the third such rezoning referendum in Lorain in the past four years, which tells you something about how dissatisfied local residents are with their local officials. For contacts in the Lorain community, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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