News: Proposed Monroe Mall Spawns Letters, Public Forum, New Group

Opposition to a proposed 1.4 million-square-foot mega-mall between Dayton and Cincinnati is becoming more organized. Opponents have written a steady stream of anti-mall letters, a public forum is

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Opposition to a proposed 1.4 million-square-foot mega-mall between Dayton and Cincinnati is becoming more organized.

Opponents have written a steady stream of anti-mall letters, a public forum is on the horizon, and the Alliance for Responsible Growth, with a core group of about 30 people from all over the Tristate, recently formed to oppose the mall, which would be built on 360 acres of land at the Corridor 75 Park in Monroe just off I-75.

The League of Women Voters and the Cincinnati branch of the Sierra Club are co-sponsoring a public meeting on the mall proposal at 7 p.m. March 15 at the local UFCW #1099 hall in Monroe. Panelists will include Monroe Mayor Elbert Tannreuther; David Rawnsley, spokesperson of the West Central Warren County Resident's Association; and Glen Brand, director of the local Sierra Club branch. A fourth panelist is expected, Brand said. Each panelist will speak for 10 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Brand hopes the forum will educate Monroe citizens about the proposal. Many of the people who would be directly affected by it don't seem to be aware of how the Ohio Department of Transportation reviews and funds projects or that the mall isn't a sure thing yet, he said.

Many of the public officials in the Monroe area are supporting the mall and the $22 million highway interchange needed to handle mall traffic, touting 2,500 jobs the mall would create, plus thousands more spin-off jobs, according to projections by the mall's developer, Taubman and Co. of Michigan.

Opponents such as Brand say the developers also need to estimate the cost of sewers, roads and other infrastructure the mall would need, plus factor in the pollution and environmental damage the mall could bring to an underground aquifer and five acres of wetland within the property's borders.

Taubman, owners or managers of 30 malls across the U.S., recently began building "value centers," a new type of entertainment-focused, outlet-style mall designed to attract shoppers from 100 or 150 miles away — in this case, Dayton and Cincinnati.

The proposal hinges on a new I-75 interchange that would be located near Kyles Station Road, about one mile south of the existing Route 63/I-75 interchange. Without the new interchange, the existing one couldn't handle the extra traffic from the mall, Monroe Development Director Jay Stewart has said.

Last year, developers asked the Ohio Department of Transportation's Transportation Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) to pay for $11 million of the new interchange's estimated $22.4 million cost, with the rest divided among local government and developers.

In December, TRAC gave the project a Tier 2 rating, meaning the project didn't receive immediate funding but that it also wasn't rejected completely. (Tier 1 is the highest priority ranking; Tier 3 is the lowest.)

In January, the mall took a second step forward when Monroe City Council rezoned 331 of 360 acres at Corridor 75 from heavy industry to general commercial, Stewart said. The other land is already commercial

TRAC is accepting public comment on the Kyles Station interchange for the 2000 funding cycle via letters and e-mail until April 15. In the summer, TRAC will hold up to six public meetings all over Ohio to get more public input on local projects, according to Michael Cull, TRAC coordinator. Letters can be sent to TRAC, 1980 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43223. E-mail can be sent to [email protected].

Cull said that so far he's received about 100 letters and e-mails against the Kyles Station interchange and none in favor.

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