By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NORWOOD - City Council put the brakes on an urban renewal study - and the potential $125 million expansion of the Rookwood shopping center development - with its decision Tuesday to send the idea of conducting the study back to the city's Community Development Committee.
Council members listened to about a dozen angry residents before taking the unanimous vote. Residents are concerned that the developer-paid study would pave the way for the city to use eminent domain to take their property and bulldoze their homes to move forward the development, which would generate about $3.5 million in taxes for the city every year.
Developers Jeffrey Anderson and Brian Copfer - who offered to pay for the community development study that would determine if the middle-class neighborhood of homes valued at between $100,000 and $200,000 is "blighted" - were not present for the meeting. The homes in question sit on Edmondson Road, along with Dacey, Garland and Atlantic avenues.
Margaret Wehmeyer, a fourth-generation resident of the city, called the area a "nice, well-maintained middle-class neighborhood."
"Money is not the end-all for some of us," she said. "Community living and relationships cannot be replaced. I don't want to see a sign that says: Welcome to Norwood - city of eminent domain."
All on the council said the land purchases should be between the developers and the residents.
Councilman Will DeLuca said that sending the issue back to committee will give council members the chance to hold public hearings, tour the neighborhood or allow the city's planning commission time to conduct its own study of the area.
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