Controversial Kroger gets go-ahead in Butler Co.

Posted at 12:19 AM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 00:41:53-05

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A controversial Kroger store got clearance to move forward Tuesday night after West Chester trustees voted in favor of a consent decree, rezoning land and allowing for a 36-acre development at State Route 747 and Tylersville Road.

The agreement is the result of a two-year legal battle between Blue Ash-based developer Silverman & Company and the West Chester Board of Trustees, which voted in March 2013 against a proposal for the project. Their vote came after many residents vocally opposed Silverman's plans, and the board's denial effectively brought development to a halt.

Then, Silverman filed a lawsuit in Butler County Common Pleas court aimed at overturning the decision.

Silverman alleged "that the procedures followed by the trustees in denying the application blurred the line between legislative and administrative action, rendering the entire proceeding an exercise of quasi-judicial authority."

In an earlier action, the company also alleged the trustees’ denial of the application was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable and without a substantial or reasonable governmental purpose, and thus violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights."

In the end, all the legal wrangling cost West Chester Township $300,000. But, trustees said, both sides got what they wanted.

A 130,000 square-foot Kroger Marketplace will anchor the development. Among other requirements, the decree calls for a landscape buffer to be built during the first phase of the project.

"This consent decree holds everybody's feet to fire. And by holding it to the fire, if they don't complete it, they're in contempt of court," board president Mark Welch said.

Several trustees called the consent decree was the best possible outcome; when the developer's request was denied two years ago, the board of trustees told residents the land was likely to be developed for commercial use at some point.

Still, some people living in the adjacent residential neighborhood aren't happy, raising concerns about heavy traffic from the new strip mall.

"I don't really think that they were listening to their constituents this time," Deb Lawrence said. "I'm very disappointed."