Charlie Cole, front, protests zoning changes in Bedford Township that some fear will pave the way for big-box stores.
TEMPERANCE - After hearing concerns about the impact on property values, increased traffic, and the effects of potential big-box stores, the Bedford Township Board last night voted to rezone five of six parcels owned by businessman Jon Whitman.
The action to modify the zoning use for 34 acres adjacent to Mr. Whitman's Ford dealership on Lewis Avenue attracted a standing-room-only crowd to the township hall.
The board rejected rezoning about eight acres north of Sterns Road and west of the dealership from single family residential to C-3 commercial.
About 13 acres between the eight-acre parcel and Indian Acres subdivision was changed from single-family residential to zoning classifications for multi-family housing, residential housing for people 55 and older, and professional and business offices.
Treasurer Sherri Meyer and Trustee Jim Goebel were the only board members to vote against all the zoning modifications.
Mrs. Meyer said the zoning changes were made without conducting an impact study, and development allowed under the zoning changes failed to provide a sufficient buffer for the subdivision.
The board also approved a request from Mr. Whitman to modify the commercial zoning for parcels on the north and south sides of the auto dealership.
The seven acres along Lewis were changed from C-2 commercial to C-3 commercial, the township's most liberal designation for commercial land.
The action by the board mirrored the recommendation of the township planning commission, which voted in favor of zoning changes on the same five parcels.
The Monroe County Planning Commission in October recommended approval for zoning changes on all six parcels.
About 30 people, most of them opposed to the zoning changes, spoke at a public hearing before the board vote.
Much of the focus last night by those against the rezoning was targeted at the possibility that commercial zoning will lead to a Wal-Mart or other
big-box store being built near residential areas.
A group called Bedford Watch was formed at least four years ago in an effort to stop the growth of big-box stores in the township.
Judy Frankowski, a group member, said township infrastructure cannot support the zoning changes and the request was similar to previous modifications sought by Mr. Whitman.
"If a big-box store like Wal-Mart is built, it will hurt property values," she said.
Mr. Whitman, president and owner of Whitman Ford, lost a lawsuit in 2007 against Bedford Township over the denial of his rezoning requests.
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