The Carcass of West Chester: Silverman and Company Inc., try again

In a lot of ways fighting a developer who has invested many thousands if not millions of dollars into a parcel of property which was initially turned down by residents complaining about the change of use in zoning considerations is no different from fighting a school levy.  Both involve government and utilize the standard process of beating residents into the ground until they submit to social pressure.  This has never been truer than the re-emergence of the Kroger Marketplace proposal in West Chester, Ohio.  According to the Pulse Journal, Blue Ash-based Silverman and Company Inc. recently resubmitted a request to change 35 acres zoned for residential use to Commercial Planned Unit Development to include a 133,000-square-foot grocery store at the intersection of Tylersville and Princeton Glendale.  This was the same parcel of land in contention during 2013.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.

The first phase of the Crossings of Beckett shopping center would include a Kroger grocery store, a bank, a pharmacy with drive-through access–a Fred Meyer Jewelers, a small medical clinic, a Kroger fuel center, an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space alongside Kroger and three additional out-parcels along Ohio 747.  Basically, it’s just another strip mall with gas stations that are already just one mile further to the south.  And there is nothing in the Silverman proposal which helps fill the massive vacancies of the old Biggs retail center just two miles to the south—which to this very day is mostly empty.  The old Biggs center is comparable in size to a Kroger Marketplace, yet Silverman and Company Inc., do not own that property—so they aren’t interested.  They’d rather build on their property of course, at a location of their choosing and if the residents pose resistance—they’ll strategically wear them down the same way school levies from public schools have.

To try to take the edge off the community battle which took place the last time this endeavor was proposed and Tom Egger led the community to resist and suppress those plans the developer made changes to the plan to eliminate the three parcels on the north side of the site.  The new plan also calls for the creation of a buffer zone for residents to the north, according to Tim Burgoyne, Silverman and Company Inc.’s director of site acquisition and development.  This tactic is common for developers so that they can give the illusion that they have compromised.  It is the same stupid thing the local public school of Lakota did when they put their last levy on the ballot.  They spent hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to essentially convince the community that they “listened.”  But in reality they just imposed their government backed will upon the voters wearing down resistance.  The developer in this case is performing the same task—but showing the community that they are “compromising.”  They hope to take the edge off Tom Egger’s case and earn the zoning commission’s support of their endeavor with a kind of rigged election process.  Likely the deal was cut with zoning officials before Silverman and Company Inc made their recent announcement.  These guys always dip their feet into the pool before they jump in.

As stated to the media by Burgoyne, “The residents wanted nothing along there, so after meeting with the community and staff members and getting everyone’s input, we believe that we have substantially addressed their concerns and we’re excited to move forward.”  What Burgoyne means is that they moved around the architectural drawings from the original proposal, which deliberately asked for too much knowing they would get resistance from the public—then backed off to their original design so to show that they compromised.  Of course that is speculation, but I’ve been down this road many more times than once—and if that’s not exactly how the situation played out, then I have swamp land on Mars to sell you.

This is supposed to be why we have government, and zoning should look at their vacant properties at the old Biggs Center and evaluate that if they allow this Kroger Marketplace into the empty field of the proposed location, they can forget about ever filling the much more lucrative location at the corner of Union Center and 747 where there are already stop lights, double lanes of traffic and an artery directly into Fairfield, Beckett Ridge, Tri County and I-75.  At the Silverman property all those things will have to be built, which makes developers happy, but will erode away the lives of Tom Egger and hundreds of families in the area.

This of course puts the Trustees of West Chester into a difficult position as they will have to vote upon the zoning recommendations—which will likely fall in their lap this time around.  If they vote against the proposed site they vote against a developer who wants to bring something truly good to West Chester.  The trouble is—it’s in the wrong location.  If they vote for the developer then they doom the lives of many tax payers looking for protection from government—and they will doom the Biggs location.  Prospective businesses for that location will choose the new corner of 747 and Tylersville because it will be the latest and greatest development in the West Chester area.  But 15 years from now, it will be old like the current Biggs location is today, and homeowners like Tom Egger and his family will still be looking at an older building bringing tons of traffic and unseemly elements to his back yard once the media has moved on to the next new thing.

I’m all for developers making a few bucks off their investments.  But the West Chester zoning board said no once before, and here come Silverman and Company Inc., with some market up drawings to give the illusion that they give a damn about what’s best for the West Chester community.  Surely they are counting on the local residents to scratch their heads and declare, “hey–they listened.”  But they didn’t, they just think the people of the community are suckers who will buy into a scam that is as old as time—and they expect to use government to protect their investments.  When Silverman and Company Inc purchased the plot of land in question, their investment was a risk.  There was no guarantee that they would convince West Chester zoning into allowing their proposal to come to fruition.  But with the many games that go on behind the scenes, they use government to protect their investments, even if it goes against the will of the people.  That is what this second proposal is—it’s very disrespectful, and ultimately damaging to the West Chester community.  But Silverman and Company Inc., won’t care.  They’ll make their money, and move on to the next location like vultures picking clean the carcass of road kill.  And within two decades the corner of 747 and Tylersville will look like modern-day Route 4, and replacing the homes of people like Tom Egger will be section 8 designations as government picks up those properties because nobody wants to move into an area that looks down into a Kroger parking lot.  The only people who will want to move to a place like that are future economic despots and people looking for government checks and a nice corner of that parking lot to sell drugs to other treacherous characters and scumbags.  Only the carcass won’t be road kill that time—it will be West Chester.

Rich Hoffman