It took 4 hours, but the City Council in Chesapeake, Virginia last night unanimously rejected Kmart’s rezoning application to construct a SuperKmart on North Battlefield Boulevard, and shut down the developer’s candy store of “proffers” made to sweeten the deal (see next newsflash for background). According to the Virginia Pilot newspaper, 55 speakers signed up to testify — of whom 25 were listed as opposed. Roughly 300 people came to the meeting. More than half of the speakers supporting the project were consultants, the newspaper said. One public relations consultant admitted that a public survey near the site found stiff opposition to the Kmart plan.Of 136 households contacted in Stillwater Farms and Oak Grove Meadows, 71 percent were opposed and 29 percent neutral or in favor, he said. Residents who spoke against the project voiced concerns over traffic congestion, crime, children’s safety and the prospect of having a “big-box” store a stone’s throw from their backyards. “This type of rezoning would set a horrible precedent for all the citizens of Chesapeake,” said Kim Mullaney, a neighbor who contacted sprawl-busters about this battle. “We are concerned that the desire of a developer to open a business could outweigh the desires of citizens to protect their homes and property.” The Kmart plan would have consumed 28 acres of land. The project also would have featured another 27,600 square feet of retail shops. The developers also “proffered” the city an abutting 8-acre estate known as Oak Grove Manor, including a six-bedroom home, as well as a $200,000 gift to support the home as a museum. The city’s own planners had noted that the Kmart would not be in compliance with the city’s land-use, which specifies residential development on the proposed site. City Planners disputed the developer’s claims for tax revenues and jobs for the project, cutting these projected benefits roughly by half of what the developer claimed. Planner also noted that traffic on the roadway — now more than 60,000 cars per day, could jump by 10% or more if the Kmart complex were approved. In the end, the neigbhors overcame all the “deal sweeteners”, and by a 9-0 vote, the City Council turned Kmart’s plans sour.
“WE WON!” wrote Kim Mullaney to sprawl-busters this morning. “By a unanimous decision, Super K-Mart was defeated 9-0…Add one more to your defeat column!”