Thursday, June 27, 2002

Ft. Wright strikes deal with Wal-Mart




By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

        FORT WRIGHT — The 19-month-old stalemate over a proposed Wal-Mart store along Madison Pike was all but put to rest Wednesday when City Council agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by developers of the property.

        Council's 4-2 vote on the first reading of the ordinance authorizing the settlement is the next to last step in the process allowing construction of a smaller Wal-Mart than originally proposed. A second and final reading is scheduled for July 10.

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        “I've always had faith in the city,” said Gerald Dusing, the Covington attorney representing Fort Wright developer B&Z Development Inc. “The settlement has been reached upon adoption of the ordinance.”

        Thus would end the saga of the 183,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for a 60-acre site bordered by Orphanage Road, Madison Pike and Highland Pike. A scaled-down version will be built instead.

        Residents near the site complained about vehicle traffic in their neighborhood. B&Z sued the city in November 2000 when council rejected its plans.

        Councilmen Adam Feinauer, Don Martin, Dave Hatter and Jeffrey Wolnitzek voted to settle the lawsuit. Councilmen Paul Hiltz and Jim Robke voted no.

        Exact settlement terms were not revealed.

        In a related item, council passed a resolution asking the Kentucky Department of Transportation to ban truck traffic on Kyles Lane and Highland Pike, near the Wal-Mart site. The city cannot do so because both are state roads.

        “All we're doing is asking them,” City Attorney Pete Summe said. “They'll probably say no.”

        In other action, council unanimously passed a $5.5 million budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year that begins Monday. Mr. Wolnitzek questioned an item that called for the city to hire an 11th police officer.

        Mayor Gene Weaver said the city would consider whether another officer is needed, though he thought the matter was settled at a council retreat earlier this year.

        City Administrator Larry Klein said a new officer is necessary because officers are spending more time on traffic accidents on Interstate 71/75 and other state roads.

       



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