Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Evendale spars anew over renewal

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

EVENDALE - Definitions of blight and the merits of a proposed urban renewal plan were debated by property owners at a meeting of the village's planning commission Tuesday.

As they have in previous sessions, the plan's opponents accused officials of pursuing urban renewal to acquire property through eminent domain.

About 65 people attended the commission's monthly meeting, and many chose to speak out against a draft plan for the Reading Road corridor. If recommended by the planning commission and approved by Village Council, the draft would replace an earlier plan adopted by council in October 2001 but rescinded in April.

The new draft was prepared by consulting firm McBride Dale Clarion, which also developed the earlier version. As part of the recent effort, consultants visited the designated area and re-evaluated the properties, said firm member Wendy Moeller. The planners consolidated some property parcels, reducing the number of affected properties to about 100, versus about 130 under the previous plan.

These were assessed against 12 criteria, such as deterioration of structures, inadequate parking, location in the flood plain and crime. In most cases, fewer properties within the proposed area fell short of standard than in the previous assessment, said Moeller.

"We recommend that, if you adopt this plan, you go back every two to three years and re-evaluate," she said. "There will be site improvements and other changes."

"The basic plan has not changed dramatically from the plan adopted in 2001," said village attorney Tim Burke, explaining to those present that the village had dropped it because some Evendale property owners charged that the public notice process was faulty.

"It seemed to make sense to go forward with a new look" at a plan rather than spend time in legal wrangling, Burke said. "The repeal had nothing to do with any faults contained in the plan."

"I think it's a terrible plan for Evendale," said Dan Regenold, owner of two businesses in the Reading Road corridor and vocal opponent of Evendale's urban renewal process. He criticized village officials for not sitting down with property owners and developing a plan together.

"Has one village official been willing to meet with us?" he asked.

Attorney Ken Heuck Jr., representing property owners Fred and Marian Orringer, argued that the village has a strong property maintenance ordinance and that property owners are meeting its stipulations.

Despite fears from some attendees that the planning commission would vote to "re-blight" the Reading Road corridor at Tuesday's meeting, no immediate action was contemplated, said Chairman Kay Bostrom.


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