Ohio was not just a critical state in the race for President, but a lesser watched vote in Hudson, Ohio was more important to local residents than who won the White House. On November 2nd, voters rejected a developer’s plans for rezoning land in the southern part of town, to build a 350,000 s.f. shopping center there. Samstel Investment Group, landowner Martin Erbaugh, and Omni Realty wanted to build “Promenade of Hudson,” a $60 million shopping center. But voters in Hudson were not buying. The contentious issue was defeated by a vote of 67%t to 33%. “We are gratified that Hudson voters have affirmed their commitment to growth and economic development based on our city strategy in our land development code and our comprehensive plan,” a spokesman for Hudson Tomorrow, a political action committee that worked for defeat of the shopping center, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Under current Hudson zoning law, stores in the Promenade area cannot be more than 5,000 s.f. The developer’s vision for the Promenade’s stores were three to six times larger than the cap. The owners tried to woo residents by claiming the mall would generate more than $2 million in annual taxes for Hudson. But the groups Smart Growth For Hudson and Hudson Tomorrow opposed the development on the grounds that it was incompatible with the city’s comprehensive plan, would take sales away from the existing downtown, and would be inconsistent with the character of the community. Under the ballot initiative, the project would have been exempted from local zoning, architectural, and environmental regulations, and exempt from jurisdiction by the planning commission and city council.
More and more developers are trying to act like citizens, and put something on the local ballot that they hope they can then win by spending big on getting out the vote. In this case, the developer’s “citizen initiative” ended up biting him. Such ballot questions are risky for citizens, because they don’t have the money that developers can throw around on advertising and direct mailings, etc. But in Hudson, Smart Growth prevailed over Big Money. Search Newsflash by “vote” for similar stories.