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2001-07-17
Chesapeake, VA. Kmart Offers City an Estate

A sprawl battlefield is unfolding on North Battlefield Boulevard in the city of Chesapeake, Virginia. At least three neighborhoods have taken up the battle against Kmart's plans to build a store that would lie roughly 100 yards from residential property. Kmart developers want the city to rezone land -- but so far their case has fallen on unresponsive ears at the city Planning staff and Planning Commission level. The Planning staff pointed out that Kmart's proposal is incompatible with the Chesapeake Land Use Plan, which calls for this stretch of North Battlefield to be used for single family residences, in keeping with the character of surrounding parcels. About a month ago, the city's Planning Commission agreed, and voted 6-2 against the sprawl rezoning. The developers have tried to suggest that the Kmart complex will bring in nearly $1 million in net revenue and generate 320 jobs by year 10 -- but city planners came up with a lower number. If the numbers didn't sound good enough, the developer started casting around for other "goodies' to throw into the pot. The latest "proffer" as they call it in Virginia, was an offer by the developer to give the city Oak Grove Manor, an 8 acre estate adjacent to the Kmart site. The developer is calling the gift a "buffer" for the project, but local neighbors wonder aloud if city zoning is for sale. ``Our question is what is necessary about gifting a half-million-dollar home to the city?'' asked Kim Mullaney, whose home abuts the Kmart land. ``How is that fair? How is that reasonable?'' An attorney working on behalf of the Kmart developer, told the Virginia Pilot newspaper that the estate proffer came about in response to residents' concerns about adequate buffers. ``The home is a legitimate extension of the requirement under the law to provide buffers,' the lawyer said. City Attorney Ronald Hallman's office issued a brief statement that suggested that while no final decision has been made concerning the legality of the proffer, it appears to be acceptable. The developer has also proffered to give the city $612,500 for a city-owned road that is part of the property needed for the project. The City Council may vote tonight whether to open the candy bag or not. Kmart is hoping the proffers are sweet enough for the city to bite on, despite what their planners and Commission have recommended. Maybe the city should hold out for more Blue Light specials, like a swimming pool or yacht. How sweet it is!

What you can do: Is your city for sale to the highest bidder? Kmart developers are now in the "win-a-home" sweepstakes. Just rezone our land and a 6 bedroom home could be yours! Of course, what use is a historic home with a full view of a Kmart box going to be to the city? For more examples of deal-sweeteners that can turn a sour deal around, see the book "Slam Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl In Your Hometown." For more information on the Kmart battlefield in Chesapeake, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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