By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
EVENDALE - Reading Road property owners opposed to a "blight" designation won their battle Tuesday.
With little explanation, Village Council members voted 5-0 to repeal a 2001 urban renewal plan and the accompanying "blight" tag for 130 properties along the village's Reading Road corridor.
Reading Road property owners were worried Council would be swayed by a national trend where governmental bodies designate property blighted so that they can exercise eminent domain and sell land to developers interested in building movie theaters, shopping malls and other projects.
"The whole blighting of Reading Road was built on a house of cards," said Bruce Hassel, owner of A to Z Discount Printing. "The plan was a dirty deal from the start. (But) they've finally done the right thing."
Council also agreed to settle a lawsuit with Hassel and another business owner, Dan Regenold. They sued because they wanted to see documentation on how Evendale conducted its urban renewal study. Evendale will pay more than $17,000 toward the plaintiffs' attorney fees.
"It's a good day because we're not blighted anymore. The blight is definitely lifted," Regenold said. "They don't have to blight the Reading Road corridor to revitalize the area. I just applaud the decision."
He and about 40 other Evendale property owners last month protested the use of eminent domain for projects that aren't strictly public garages or street widening projects.
"People are starting to step up," Regenold said. "This isn't the way to take property. There are other way besides threats," he said. "We just made a decision to put these governments on record that these phony blight cases are not going to be all over Cincinnati."
But urban renewal - and the threat of blight - isn't dead in Evendale. After council's special Tuesday session, planning commissioners were presented with a new urban renewal plan that proposes different scenarios for improving Reading Road. Blight is still a possibility.
Councilman Phil Schneider said that, this time around, council members and planning commissioners would seek more public input. That's how council erred, he said, when approving the urban renewal plan repealed Tuesday.
"I don't feel like those property owners were ever threatened," he said. "We never told those property owners that we had any intention to take that property. They determined on their own that they were threatened."
TRISTATE REACTS TO WAR
Family, neighbors mourn a soldier
Gold star banners for duo
Counseling, hot lines, Web sites
Keeping in touch
Soldier hit by shrapnel
IN THE TRISTATE
$400,000 gone from campaign
Faith brings joyfulness amid the tragedies of life
Luken may veto spending
Fire that killed 5 was no accident
'Summer' breezes into town
Hey, driving here isn't so bad
French Lick dares to breathe
Views clash in court on gun law
Evendale council rescinds 'blight' label for Reading Road corridor
Council to address use of Cleves fields
Tax Day filers form lively line on deadline
Tristate A.M. Report
SMITH AMOS: In harm's way?
BRONSON: Thank you
KORTE: City Hall
HOWARD: Some Good News
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Middletown mayor put on leave at county job
Warren changes overseer
Hamilton Township police vote 7-1 to join Fraternal Order of Police
Liberty cuts list for top job to six
Putter's owner vows to fix parking jam
Obituary: Jack Groh, businessman
Money's pouring in for Voinovich second term
Water center to give residents price break
Place to eat? Buttermilk Pike
Senator his old self after surgery
Churchill alters policy on wagering
Lucas fund raising lags 3 in GOP
Ex-Dayton cop given home incarceration
Transportation building a waste, Lunsford says
'Palace' to spread peace through meditation
Candidate pitches higher cigarette tax