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2000-12-02
Chesapeake, VA. Super K is not OK

The idea of Kmart's Blue Light specials has residents in Chesapeake, Virginia seeing red. On an appropriately named "Battlefield Boulevard", Kmart wants to rezone 19 acres of land for a 165,240 s.f. big box store. "It's a good location," a spokesman for the Michigan-based retailer told the Virginian Pilot newspaper. That's how local homeowners feel too -- the land was a good location for residential property. Most of the land Kmart wants is currently wooded lots. The land is zoned for many things -- but not regional retail. Part of the land is zoned office and institutional use, part neighborhood business, and part residential single family. Even the developer has admitted that the Chesapeake Comprehensive Plan calls for "suburban single family" development on the site in question. But in their application for a zone facelift, the developer tries to nullify the Plan and dictate what should happen on Battlfield road. "It would appear that the current designation in the Comprehensive Plan of 'suburban single family' would no longer be appropriate for this site," the application declares. "It can be stated categorically that no developer would desire to put any type of residential unit adjacent to Battlefield Boulevard, and especially not single family units." In other words, sprawling development has destroyed any residential value in the area, so let us pile on more. That's of little comfort to the homeowners who built houses along Oak Grove Meadows or Rose Ash Way. They never would have bought into the area if it had been named "SuperKmart Lane". The Oak Grove Meadows Civic League has promised to try to turn out Kmart's Blue light, and will be in attendance at the city's December 13th. hearing of the Planning Commission. Meanwhile, before the plans have even reached the Planning Commission level, much less the City Council, the city's staff has already sided with Kmart and against the residential taxpayers. "We're excited to work with Kmart on their project," said Don Goldberg, the city's director of economic development.Kmart has promised 225 jobs, but they did not promise that they would be NEW jobs. At least the developer read the Comprehensive Plan and realized this project was inharmonious with the plan -- but what's the excuse for the city's own staff supporting the project before the land even is rezoned?

What you can do: I always remind local citizens that rezoning land is a discretionary act, not an entitlement. Kmart has no inherent right to land that is not zoned commercially. In this case, rezoning goes against the comprehensive plan, and will have an adverse impact on residential property values nearby. Those two reasons are reasons enough to place a red light on Kmart's blue light. The developer tried to argue that very few residential homes now front on Batttlefield Boulevard, but that sidesteps the issue of how many homes surround that proposed site. There is sure to be a battle on Battlefield Boulevard, unless Kmart sees the light and withdraws its plans out of respect to the local residents. After all, Chesapeake residents say they are already swimming in big box stores, and don't need to go out of their way to rezone land for more of the same. For local contacts, email info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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