Thursday, May 29, 2003

Township looks at zoning rules

Trustee wants upgrade for commercial interchange

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - After an announcement that a Wal-Mart Supercenter may come to a busy interchange, township leaders want to make sure development and landscaping standards are increased.

Trustee Catherine Stoker wants to form an overlay district at Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Interstate 75 to better control the quality of development.

"We don't want it to look like Tylersville Road," Stoker told the other two trustees at Tuesday night's meeting.

She also wants the township to consider forming a tax increment-financing district in the area to pay for landscaping and as an incentive for developers to build high-class developments.

But Trustee Jose Alvarez seemed skeptical, warning the township to proceed cautiously.

"I don't want people thinking they are going to get fistfuls of money to build there," he said.

This month, Wal-Mart officials confirmed they are near to signing a deal with developers who own a 75-acre parcel on the northwest corner of the interchange.

The Wal-Mart store about a mile north along I-75 at Tylersville Road would shut down when the new, larger store opens, possibly in 2005, Wal-Mart officials have said.

The existing Wal-Mart, which opened in the mid-1990s, is a basic gray and blue, big-box-type store.

The new one, trustees hope, will be better looking - but there are no zoning standards in place to enforce that.

"We have no zoning overlay. There is no requirement now for them to do anything other than their standard box," Stoker said. "The Cincinnati-Dayton Road gateway is a major one into the community, and we would like it to reflect the quality and pride we have in the township."

In other business Tuesday, trustees were agreeable to forming an architectural review committee for the Olde West Chester area along Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

Merchants and property owners along the strip of small businesses want the township to help them redevelop the district. Already, many property owners have fixed up their buildings and/or renovated older homes into businesses.

The township also has a speedier process for handling outstanding maintenance violations.

Under the old process, it took months to enforce clean-up at properties with overgrown grass, weeds, debris and other violations.

Now, it will take about four to six weeks to bring the matter to trustees, who can declare the property eligible for maintenance enforcement faster.

Typically, each summer there are complaints from residents about neighboring yards with overgrown greenery and garbage.

But this year, there are more problems - and township officials say they have run out of patience.

"We don't have the personnel to go out and mow everyone's lawn," Stoker said. "Nor do we intend to hire people to do it. This way, we will contract out the work and then bill the property owner."


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