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1999-08-20
Marion, OH. Rite Aid's "Artistic" Store

The residents of historic Olde Towne Marion say that Rite Aid is simply wrong. The convenience store company wants to abandon two of its older stores downtown, and build a new store by tearing down five historic buildings in Olde Towne. Rite Aid admits that the city will see no net job gain, since the employees at the new store will be transferred from the old ones, but still the Mayor of Marion thinks the Rite Aid "is great for the city to have." As originally proposed, the Rite Aid needed several variances from the city's zoning code, due to the odd shape of the lot, the lack of parking spaces, and the fact that the building would be only 19 feet from neighbors. Residents also saw no reason to build across the street from a recently constructed CVS. Also across from the proposed Rite Aid would be the historic Stengel True Museum. When the City Council moved to pass a 3 month moratorium on demolitions to give everyone time to consider the consequences of tearing down historic homes (most now used for small businesses), Rite Aid managed to get a demolition permit before the moratorium could take effect. The Mayor was quick to point out that Rite Aid did NOT get the permit from the city's zoning inspector, who happens to own one of the properties Rite Aid is buying. The Mayor had the city engineeer oversee the demolition permit. Rite Aid also bought out one of the more outspoken abuttors, leaving them more wiggle room for their project. Rite Aid's director of Real Estate said that "our strategy has given rise to concern in the community and in the other communities and that's not unexpected, because we're not looking to build on the edge of town in a cornfield where they may not be any concerns." What could top that statement? Only Rite-Aid's justification for why they needed a larger store: so there is more room for the pharmacist to interact with the customers! Rite Aid began offering important concessions to the neighbors: like cutting the size of the store by 2% (217 s.f.); dropping the "big blue awnings" and replacing them with "artistic arches"; scratching the beige stucco exterior for "special bricks" colored similar to the Museum across the road. "We feel the opposition here," Rite Aid admitted, "it has surprised us somewhat." But not so much that they were willing to downsize the store or drop the "double drive through" feature. (Well, maybe one drive through would be enough.). When push came to shove, the Marion Zoning Board voted to grant the store a variance for reduced parking spaces. One resident responded:"The downtown people wonder why nothing is moving into downtown. It's probably because everything is moving out of downtown to the outskirts." Rite Aid sure is.

What you can do: Old Towne residents have vowed to keep telling Rite Aid that they are wrong. The next step in the process is most likely a legal one. The Citizens for Responsible Development have collected more than 3,100 signatures, and have pledged that "if they build it, we won't come". To find out how you can help stop Rite Aid in Marion, contac the CRD at 740-382-2402, Steve or Marsha Adams.










 
 
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