Thursday, April 29, 1999

Rookwood growth spills over

Shopping center expansion plans use street access

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        William and Carroll Ramsey gave up living on 7 acres in Goshen to move to a quiet dead-end street in Hyde Park.

        The Ramseys with their four children like being close to Rookwood Pavilion, an upscale shopping center on the edge of Norwood. They like the neighborhood, school district and most of all Burch Avenue, the street with little traffic or crime.

        But that tranquillity is being threatened by a $60 million planned expansion of Rookwood Pavilion and plans to use Burch Avenue as a back entrance to the shopping center.

        “Expanding the pavilion is nice,” Mr. Ramsey said, “but to use this street as one of the back entrances is horrible. It is too narrow.”

        Mrs. Ramsey grew up in the house where they live, now owned by her father.

        “This was a great street to grow up on and a great place to raise children,” she said. “I think it is a shame to destroy all the nice residential things we have lived and worked for on this street.”

        She points to the narrowness of a section of the street in the 3600 block, from Madison Road north to a railroad track that separates Cincinnati from Norwood.

        “Two cars cannot pass each other on the street. If a car is coming, you have to pull over to the side to let it past,” she said. “I don't see how this street could possibly handle more traffic coming from Madison, Erie and Observatory.”

        The expansion is being planned by developer Jeffrey Anderson, who developed Rookwood Pavilion.

        The addition to the Pavilion, to be called Rookwood Commons, would occupy about 30 acres to the west and north of the Pavilion. The expansion would be about 50 yards from the Ramseys' house.

        The city of Norwood has approved an urban-renewal district to allow Mr. Anderson's company to acquire property for the expansion.

        The company needs about 30 or 40 homes, and some commercial and industrial sites for the development, all in Norwood.

        Edmondson Road in Norwood would be one of the entrances, and some residents have expressed discontent.

        Burch Avenue is in Cincinnati. There is a question whether the company would automatically be allowed access to Rookwood Commons from Burch, said Leon Meyer, director of Cincinnati's Planning Department.

        Mr. Meyer has set a meeting with the Hyde Park Neighborhood Council for 7:30 p.m. May 6 at the Oakley Community/Senior Center in Hyde Park Plaza to get comments from residents.

        “This is a fact-finding mission,” Mr. Meyer said. “We want to get the residents' thinking on this issue. We haven't granted (access), and there may be a legal question as to whether Cincinnati would have to. The issue may have to be settled in court.”

        Even though Burch Avenue widens south of Madison Road, residents in the 3500 block also are upset.

        “This is a Norwood business, and they should use a Norwood entrance to the expansion,” said Cyndi Braum.

        John Shardong expressed the same sentiment. “Why should a quiet, residential street in Cincinnati be destroyed for a business in Norwood when that city gets all the benefits?” Mr. Shardong said.

        The project is scheduled to start in mid-2000. It is estimated that Norwood would realize in excess of $500,000 in revenues from earnings taxes and the school district would get $250,000 in property taxes.

        Norwood officials said the Burch Avenue access issue is not their problem.

        “We approved an urban renewal district giving the developer the right to acquire property by eminent domain, but we haven't had to use it. He has acquired property through private negotiations,” said Rick Dettmer, community development director.

        “Part of the property the developer acquired is the Hyde Park Lumber Co., which has access from Burch Avenue. We can't do anything about blocking an existing access route.”


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