Saturday, October 26, 2002

Evendale rehab to be reviewed

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

EVENDALE - Persistent criticism from some in its business community has prompted village officials to take another look at their vision for revitalizing Reading Road.

What: Public meeting to discuss Evendale's Reading Road urban renewal plan
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Municipal building, 10500 Reading Road
Information: 563-2244.
Following several months of holding "visioning" sessions for property owners in the area, the municipality has decided to review the document that underlies its community improvement efforts: an urban renewal plan completed in August 2001.

The village has scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, during which property owners within the urban renewal area can suggest changes to the urban renewal plan.

The plan included a "blighted" declaration for properties within the study area, based on criteria established by the federal government.

While the village stated the designation was merely a step toward improvements an urban renewal process could foster, a group of property owners took issue with it, questioning both the plan's effect and village officials' motives in pursuing it. Business owners like M. Patrick Marston and Bruce Hassel fear the value of their properties has declined as a result of being labeled "blighted." They also say that the village did not provide adequate notice of its intent to pursue the urban renewal designation.

The controversy led village officials to consult attorney Tim Burke, whose firm, Manley Burke, has been involved with the development of urban renewal plans for Wyoming, Wilmington, Ohio; Lockland, Fairfield, Norwood and Milford.

At Mr. Burke's recommendation, officials decided to re-examine the plan, implementing a process that will emphasize public input and discussion.

In a letter to property owners, Mayor Douglas A. Lohmeier said Tuesday's meeting is aimed at getting citizen comment. He defended the urban renewal plan as "an important tool to assist local government in controlling the quality of development in its community."

Dan Regenold, who has been a vocal opponent of the village's approach to urban renewal, isn't convinced.

"The reason they are amending the plan is because they realize they made mistakes and are on shaky legal ground because they did not give proper notice prior to passage," the Evendale business owner said.

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