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Controversies brew over zoning options

‘#160;

A development on the east side of I-75 surrounding Meijer has sparked controversy as to how it should be zoned residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial.

On November 3, Bowling Green voters will decide how the land should be developed.

The 26 acres is currently zoned for agricultural purposes, but Bowling Green Citizens For Smart Growth an organization that promotes a high quality and character of life fear it will turn residential or into restaurants.

Local resident Christine Drennen said the master plan suggested that this area be slated for industrial and commercial growth.

‘How you get from agriculture to multi-family zoning would be two opposite ends of the spectrum for land use. They need to stay to the master plan,’ she said.

Brooke Blessing, junior, would like to see more commercial stores and restaurants fill the area.

‘We need close shopping,’ Blessing said. ‘I would like to see outlet stores, Kohls, Target, Olive Garden, and Friday’s to fill that area.’

Restaurants are exactly what some fear will lead to the failure.

‘We have watched restaurants come and go on that side of town and there’s a reason for their failure,’ said David McClough, professor of economics at the University. ‘This is not an optimal development plan to bring tax revenue to Bowling Green.’

But B.J. Fischer, president of City Council, favors the rezoning due to its potential benefits to the area.

‘I voted for the rezoning out by Meijer, residential and retail,’ Fischer said. ‘A lot of people in the community want to see retail and restaurant development. This development, I believe, would strengthen the community.’

McClough, along with Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth, fear that if the area becomes residential and retail it will be hard to attract industries.

‘You don’t put heavy industry with residents for a reason,’ McClough said. ‘Whenever new zoning is proposed you ask, ‘What will rezoning do to the traffic in the area?’ Also, ‘Will police, fire and rescue response times remain the same everywhere?’

The overpass of State Route 105 and the I-75 interchange is currently dangerous for all residents to cross.

Mike Tyson, president of Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth, is concerned for the safety of residents if rezoning occurs.

‘If this land is rezoned, as many as 1,200 tenants will be attempting to cross the highway will lead to serious accidents,’ Tyson said.

Citizens have asked if a walkway could be a solution and if so, how much will it cost taxpayers.

And if a walkway isn’t installed, Drennen fears the worst.

‘If you mix pedestrians with an interstate you are asking for death,’ she said.

Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth collected 616 signatures to get this issue on the November 3 ballot. McClough faced little opposition while getting signatures.

‘You could count on two hands how many people would not sign the petition and I talked to well over 100 people,’ McClough said.

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