Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eyes Wide Shut (apologies to Stanley Kubrick)

Like many of you, this blogger was surprised to read about the CVS project detailed by Sarah Mausolf in the Express Times on 11/29/05. Commercial development is encouraged in Forks. It's a good way to increase our tax base without causing excess stress on our infrastructure and our schools.

Forks also has a Comprehensive Plan adopted a number of years ago which was intended to guide development of a real and vibrant Town Center. Industrial development does not belong in Town Center, that's where retail is encouraged. Now our Township officials are going to be put to the test since this project is not industrial but retail and includes both a drug store and a drive-through fast food restaurant at one of our already most congested intersections, Uhler Road and Sullivan Trail, in the Employment Center district.

In addition, the project will need zoning variances, one to put two buildings on one lot and the second to erect a (currently not permitted in EC) drive-through restaurant. There is no Zoning Hearing Board meeting scheduled for December at this time, at least there is none listed on the Township website, nor has one been advertised in the Express Times. As to the December Planning Commission agenda, it's way too early for that to be online.

The issue facing our Township officials is whether to disregard its master plan and allow the project because it's offered or to more rigorously defend the spirit of the Town Center design. It's a conundrum for sure. And, on top of that, according to Mausolf's article, CVS has an additional adjacent 6 acres. If this project is allowed, will CVS-Forks then expect to do more retail development there? Would that then give us a strip mall where industry and offices were intended? Economically, which would be better for Forks taxpayers?

There's so much to think about! I wonder if the Zoning Hearing Board takes the Comprehensive Plan into account when making decisions? I wonder if they will be told about the additional 6 acres? Heck, I wonder how the newspaper got this story before any of them?

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