The Morning Journal Endorses Avon Commons

Sunday, October 18, 1998

Avon Commons, the $65 million shopping center Mitchell Schneider wants to build on Detroit Road just east of SR-83 in Avon, is the RIGHT PLAN for the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME. We strongly recommend that voters approve his initiative petition to change the property from a C-2 to a C-3 commercial zoning classification.

We realize that this project, which covers 85 acres and includes four 80,000-square-foot units, would open the way for larger retail stores in a community that has resisted them, but we argue that these are inevitable, and we are convinced that this plan is the best opportunity for Avon to control the location and limit the impact of such development.

This project by Schneider's First Interstate Development Co. has been endorsed by the Avon Planning Commission. Schneider has bent over backward to accommodate the wishes of city officials and make Avon Commons an outstanding example of public - private land use planning.

He has greatly exceeded green space requirements and included park-like amenities such as walkway, an amphitheater, a gazebo, and space for community events. He has agreed to pay all the costs - an estimated $1.8 million - for lane additions and COMPUTER-LINKED SIGNALING, not only at the center's entrance and at SR-83 and Detroit Road, but also on both sides of I-90. Traffic consultants say conditions after the shopping center is open would be better than they are now without it.

Avon has long hoped to preserve its rural atmosphere. This development would keep the faith by retaining residential and agricultural uses bordering most of Detroit Road. This site, a "dog-leg" in shape, has its longest frontage (2,200 feet) along the interstate highway, its shortest (800 feet) along Detroit, the parallel east-west roadway to the south.

The idea of allowing commercial use of this property is not new. It has been designated for that purpose for the 25 years or so that Avon has had a zoning plan. It could be developed for retail use now in the C-2 classification, but the result would be a hodge - podge of smaller places without a common architectural theme and with no strong retail store or supermarket to draw shoppers.

The timing is right, now, because Schneider would be the first with a large shopping center at an existing major highway interchange and would have the ability to attract the best selection of prime quality retailers. Another set of developers has talked of building a mega-mall a few miles to the east, but we think that project is at least a decade away, and the largest share of the property involved is now zoned for residential use.

When completed, Avon Commons would generate more than $2 million a year in property taxes, including $1,180,000 for Avon schools, $600,000 for the City's general fund (assuming City Council enacts a proposed entertainment tax) and $300,000 for county government and the joint vocational school. No tax abatement will be sought.

Avon doesn't have to look very far beyond its borders to see bad examples of commercial development. In Avon Commons, however, the community has a vision of quality, with ample attention to greenspace, consistent design, and improved traffic flow, and all of that at the expense of the developer.

Mitchell Schneider has worked hard to earn the community's respect and support. We urge voters to VOTE "YES" ON THIS ISSUE [# 14] Nov. 3.

(c) 1998, The Morning Journal

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