The battle of Water Song addition

September 26, 2007 at 7:02 pm 3 comments

Water Song

If a developer told you he was going to build a gas station on the property behind your house, after you were told by the home builder that the property’s zoned for an office park, what would you do?

Some residents of Water Song addition near the corner of Coldwater and Union Chapel roads want to fight it tooth and nail. Resident Donald Bengel, in a letter to the editor in The News-Sentinel, says he may be willing to go to court over the matter. (You can read his letter on the continuation page.)

But it’s very difficult for any government to kill a new business in cold blood, especially one on a busy corner. It’s likely the challenge would go nowhere.

Instead, why not consider the long-term needs of the neighborhood, and fight for that?

Like most carved-from-the-cornfield developments, Water Song is 100 percent residential, cut off from any business or service. Perhaps there are sidewalks, but there are precious few reasons to walk them.

Run out of milk? Drive to the store. Want a cup of coffee? Drive to a coffee shop.

But if the developer of the gas station is encouraged to serve the neighborhood it borders, he could do the following:

  • Build a sidewalk between the neighborhood and store, for walking, biking and skateboarding — and include a bike rack.
  • Point the outdoor lights downward.
  • Stock essentials, such as milk, bread, butter and batteries.
  • Construct the side of the gas station facing the neighborhood not as a blank wall, but with a nice little coffee house with plenty of windows, such as a Higher Grounds.
  • Be sure there isn’t a drive-through lane or any other traffic between the store and the neighborhood, for safety.

Come at the developer as enemies, and you’ll get a losing battle. But come at him as potential customers, and he very well may build a place that would serve your neighborhood rather than injure it.

Photo of Water Song addition from Google Maps. See the jump for the full text of the letter to the editor referenced.

— Jon Swerens

Letter to the editor, The News-Sentinel, Sept. 20:

No gas station, please

About two years ago, my wife and I decided to sell our home and build on the northwest side.

We finally decided on a lot on a pond in Water Song addition. There was one problem — a small office park not too far from where we wanted to build facing Coldwater Road. When we told the agent for the developer about our concerns and that we were also looking at a lot in Sorrento, she assured us that the area along Coldwater Road was going to be nothing but an office park. The hours of operation would be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, and there would not be much traffic. She also told us it was already zoned for this. We decided this was acceptable, so we purchased the lot and built the house.

Now, two years later, the developer is trying to change the zoning and build a gas station on this property. This will be a seven-day- a-week operation, 5:30 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m., and it will possibly be a 24/7 operation. The developer did have an informational meeting, but the notice did not give the people time to organize. There were still between 60 and 100 who attended.

Many who live directly behind the proposed gas station told the same story of how they were told this was going to be an office park. They also checked the zoning, and it was zoned for an office park. We had a meeting with the zoning commission, and the attorney for the developer said they had a meeting with the people involved and it went fairly well. (He must have been to a different meeting than the rest of us, because there was every thing but a fistfight.) He also said the developer can’t be responsible for what his agents told us. I don’t think he would like to argue this in court.

Donald Bengel

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Entry filed under: Cul-de-sac culture, Jon Swerens. Tags: , , , , .

Thanks for the shout-out, Mitch Being neighborly, even online

3 Comments

  • 1. alex  |  September 26, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Actually, neighbors near Auburn Road and Dupont put up a good fight to keep out a CVS and they succeeded. I think it depends largely on how many people protest and how soon before the fix is in.

    On the other hand, just a short distance away from Watersong (Gawd, what a dopy place name) on Union Chapel, neighbors lost when they tried to fight a pole barn on similar grounds—that the developer had promised a parklike common area and instead sold to free-livers who wanted to do their own thing. The free-livers prevailed in court after a long and ugly battle and at this point are probably not enjoying living there because of the animus with the neighbors. (I confess, I had no sympathy for the people in the housing addition because it’s ugly and too dense and the people who built the pole barn are much more in keeping with the kinds of property owners who traditionally occupied this area.)

  • 2. J. Q. Taxpayer  |  September 27, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Congrats on the new Blog. The more people we get speaking the better we all will be. The best results are often found when talking or fighting each other.

    Sadly in propety use it offen comes down to this statement. “If you don’t own it, then you don’t control it!”

    I agree that if people tried to work with each other things can be worked out at times.

    Sadly, it appears like the previous comment stated the “fix” was in. It does happen.

    There was a reson the people up by Auburn Road and Dupont where able to derail so many attempts to develop that property. But finally it is being developed! See, in this case the reverse FIX was in place. The property owner was on the outs with certain people and they made his life hell to develop it. The nearby residents where only a tool of others.

  • 3. Jon L'hommedieu  |  September 29, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I live a little bit south of this intersection and I don’t like the idea of a gas station on this corner either. There is already a gas station on the SW corner and there is a lot of shopping a mile south.

    Keep it zoned the way it is.


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