The fate of a planned shopping center, which would be anchored by a 133,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace, is now in the hands of West Chester trustees after the township’s zoning commission rejected a developer’s plan by a 4-1 vote.
Roughly 100 people attended Monday night’s zoning meeting. Due to fire code, residents were forced to sit out in the lobby of West Chester Township Hall.
Blue Ash-based developer Silverman and Company presented its case to build a shopping center, Crossings of Beckett, on the corner of Tylersville Road and Princeton-Glendale Road (Ohio 747). In addition to the Marketplace, the development would include six lots that could feature retail stores or up to three restaurants, as well as two lots that could feature office buildings.
A group of neighbors, with the help of attorney Timothy Mara, claimed that the proposed development could create numerous safety issues. If built, Mara says residents will have to deal with noise, blowing litter, smells from restaurants, traffic from customers and trucks.
Not everyone in attendance opposed the development as 21 employees from the Kroger on Ohio 747 – located 1.5 miles from the proposed Marketplace – came out to support the proposed development.
“We are very disappointed in the results,” Kroger spokeswoman Rachael Betzler said Tuesday. “It would make a much better shopping experience because the current Kroger is a very busy store and is busting at the seams.”Assuming the developer doesn’t withdraw its application, trustees are expected to host a public hearing and vote on the plan sometime in April. If past trustee meetings are any indicator of how the trustees will vote, the shopping center plan is in trouble.
“In my 10 years as a trustee, I can’t remember ever overruling a decision by the zoning commission,” said trustee George Lang, who said he leans toward supporting the zoning commission’s recommendation.
To overrule the zoning board’s recommendation, all three trustees must unanimously vote for the development. Fellow trustee Lee Wong said he won’t make his decision until he is able to see the zoning commission transcripts.
When Wong gets his hand on those transcripts, he will see a difference in opinion from the zoning commission members.
Prior to their vote, zoning board members Jim Hahn and Art Hupp said they favored the plan for the Kroger Marketplace that would be built in phase 1 of the project, but didn’t like the idea of adding an additional 65,000 square feet of retail in phase 2.
Silverman and Company can re-submit a new plan and repeat the entire process. But Mara doesn’t see how the developer can come back with a different plan and still include the Kroger Marketplace.
“It is very hard for me to imagine that they can to go forward and still have that 133,000-square foot store,” said Mara, who represented homeowners in previous fights that stopped a Walmart Supercenter in Harrison and a retail complex in Colerain Township.
The battle for and against this shopping center is similar to the fight Sycamore Township residents had with the city of Blue Ash over a proposed shopping center that would be anchored by a Target. The Target finally opened in 2011, after a nine-year process that was stalled in part due to the economy.
“Blue Ash ultimately made their decision,” said Greg Bickford, planning and zoning director of Sycamore Township. “If the residents are not happy with the traffic, we have not heard.”