Avon Commons 'Yes' for C3 zoning

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[There will be a public showing of the Avon Commons video at 10 am on Monday, 5-24-99, at the Avon Lions Community Center, 2155 Eaton Drive.]

EDITORIAL from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-22-99

"Some things are different, some are not as Avon voters again take up the proposal to change zoning to permit the $65 million Avon Commons shopping center project. We endorsed this plan when it was on the ballot last November, and we do so again for the June 1 special election.

The differences since the last referendum make it seem even more worthy of support now.

The issue is whether Avon voters want to permit reclassification from C-2 to C3 zoning of the 85 acres between I-90 and Detroit Road just east of Center Road.

A ''no'' vote keeps it C2, permitting commercial development but limiting the size of stores and requiring only 20 percent of greenspace and no traffic improvements or other amenities.

A ''yes'' vote would change the site owned by First Interstate Development Corp. to C-3 and permit construction of an open air shopping center that would include three stores 80,000 square feet or larger.

Developer Mitchell Schneider would have to provide 30 percent or more of green space -- with wider buffers along Detroit and Center roads -- and pay for traffic lanes and signals on the nearby roads at a cost of $1.8 million.

The number of larger stores is one thing that has changed. Schneider has moved one of his proposed tenants to another site already zoned C3, next to an I-90 interchange on the west side of the city. He now wants to build just three of the larger stores at the Avon Commons site, having replaced the fourth with three more restaurants.

He hasn't got tenants on the dotted line -- they won't sign until the zoning is set -- but Schneider's short list of prospects for those larger stores is Target, Home Depot and the Kohl's Department Store.

To give you an idea of what might go in the rest of the center, Schneider has said that other possibilities are Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Dick's Sporting Goods, Linens & Things and Michaels Arts & Crafts. There would also be a 16-screen Cinemark theater.

Two other differences in this campaign are its sponsors and its focus. Schneider is lending his financial support, of course, but the instigator of this ballot issue was Bob Barnhart, an Avon resident and former Avon High School superintendent. He said he realized after the November defeat that development of the site would proceed in any case under C2 zoning, and that with C3 it would be better for the community

Schneider would be required, and willing, to add not only the traffic improvements and greenspace, but also such amenities as walking trails, a gazebo and an amphitheater that could serve as a community gathering place.

Last year, people who opposed this project pleaded for Avon to keep its quiet, country atmosphere. Barnhart and other supporters of the change have tried turn the focus of this election to a key point: Change is coming in any case. It isn't a question of ''development versus no development,'' but of a good project versus a mediocre one.

We agree with him. Development is coming to the land at Detroit and Center roads. Shouldn't it be the best possible plan? We strongly recommend that Avon voters say ''yes'' June 1 to Avon Commons."

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