Friday, November 10, 2000

Developer sues over rejection of Wal-Mart plan

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT WRIGHT — The developer who wants to build a Wal-Mart superstore here has appealed City Council's recent rejection of his plan.

        Jim Berling of B&Z Development Inc. brought a suit Wednesday in Kenton Circuit Court against the city and council.

        “It's no surprise,” said City Administrator Larry Klein. “He's preserving his rights.”

        B&Z Development Inc. had 30 days to appeal, said Gerald Dusing, Mr. Berling's lawyer.

        After a 7 1/2-hour hearing that ended in the early morning of Oct.12, council rejected the proposed superstore by a 5-1 vote.

        Council questioned the thoroughness of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission's review of the project and expressed concerns about traffic.

        Petitions bearing about 600 names of residents opposed to the project also were submitted to council.

        In his lawsuit, Mr. Berling claims that council's rejection of his Stage I development plan is arbitrary and capricious, and that it violates his due process rights and Fort Wright zoning law.

        Through his lawsuit, Mr. Berling seeks to overturn City Council's decision so that he can build a Wal-Mart supercenter on 60 acres off Ky. 17 between Orphanage Road and Highland Pike.

        The suit argues that council's vote overriding the recommendation of approval from the Kenton County and Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission is invalid. It asks that the county body's approval of B&Z Development's application be deemed final.

        Patrick Hughes, a lawyer representing 10 Fort Wright residents who oppose the Wal-Mart project, said he has yet to see whether they want to intervene in the suit.

        “Obviously, the residents are disappointed that the developer continues to ignore the concerns of the people who have lived in Fort Wright for decades,” Mr. Hughes said. “But we're hopeful that the city of Fort Wright will aggressively defend this action.”


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