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Published: Wednesday, 2/22/2006

Perrysburg: Big-box store rules proposed, studied


Perrysburg is considering regulating big-box stores to help preserve local identity and businesses.

Proposed regulations define several types of big-box stores, including general merchandise stores such as Target and Meijer; grocery stores, specialized product stores such as Best Buy or Home Depot; outlet stores like Burlington Coat Factory, and warehouse club stores like Costco.

Parts of the proposed recommendations are designed to prevent an influx of supercenters like the Wal-Mart proposed for Perrysburg Township.

The recommendations would prohibit retail stores larger than 100,000 square feet that devote more than 5 percent of their sales floor to grocery items. Grocery stores generally are between 20,000 and 100,000 square feet, said Rick Thielen, the city's planning, zoning and economic development administrator.

Mr. Thielen said the city's zoning code update includes some additional requirements for reviews of proposed buildings more than 60,000 square feet.

"At the same time there's been quite a bit of discussion about the Wal-Mart issue here," he said.

He added that although Wal-Mart is proposing to build a store in the township, other retailers are likely to be interested in sites in the city, especially along State Route 25. "It's not going to go away," Mr. Thielen said.

The city will review plans for the proposed Wal-Mart before considering extending services to the site.

The draft regulations suggest changing the definition of "big box" to mean stores larger than 20,000 square feet instead of stores larger than 60,000 square feet.

"That [size] in and of itself can have a significant impact," Mr. Thielen said.

The proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is about 200,000 square feet, about the same size as the nearby Meijer. The Books-A-Million at Levis Commons is 30,000 square feet.

The regulations address design elements to help the large buildings blend with surrounding areas. Possible requirements include subtly-colored facades with sidewalks, overflow parking areas topped with grass, landscaping elements around freestanding signs to break up large parking lots, and public amenities such as plazas, water features, and outdoor play areas.

Recreational vehicles and tractor trailers would not be allowed to park overnight.

Among the concerns addressed in the draft regulations are abandoned stores. The draft suggests that the city require big-box retailers to set aside money for demolition. Property owners or operators would be required to submit plans for removal or reuse within 12 months of a store's closing.

A public hearing is scheduled at the city planning commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. today.

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