The city of Springboro, Ohio has boxed out stores like Wal-Mart and Meijer’s. According to the Dayton Daily News, officials in Springboro think such stores would “junk up” their city. So when Wal-Mart and Meijer’s came a-courting, plans for both stores not only got thumbs down, but the city enacted a 12 month ban on commercial development. Residents in Springboro have been toiling for three years to come up with a master plan to guide growth that resembles the community’s historic downtown. Officials want to think outside of the big box, Springboro City Manager Wally Douthewaite told the Daily News. “If you look at the Wal-Mart and Meijer, the ancillary uses are fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations,” Douthewaite said. Last January, the City Council unanimously approved a planned unit development (PUD) zoning ordinance that prohibited Meijer Inc. from building a 129,000 square-foot store next to a residential neighborhood. The city said it would rather see the Meijer’s site used for professional offices that would bring in higher-income workers. The city’s master plan, adopted in 1998, called for office space at that intersection, so Meijer’s could not push retail there. Springboro depends on local income tax as a source of funds, so higher paying jobs are more attractive. The city has also rejected a Wal-Mart supercenter , citing aesthetics and urban sprawl as major reasons for the negative response. The Wal-Mart would have added traffic problems near the gateway to the city. But the City apparently has not ruled out a Wal-Mart, telling the company “if you can give us a site plan that knocks our socks off, that is heavily landscaped and has a nice facade, we
can work with them,” the city manager noted. The PUD ordinance, a by-product of the master plan, was amended to give the city more of a say in how the
Springboro apparently has gained a reputation in Warren County, Ohio for its commitment to “smart growth.” None of the other communities in the county even have a master plan for land use. However, Springboro has still left itself open to a Wal-Mart, and sometimes minor facade changes can make local officials think they’ve had their “socks knocked off”. The city has allowed other retailers in at smaller sizes, and with more unique designs. So far Wal-Mart and Meijer’s are the ones who’ve had their socks blown off.