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Boxed In

November 28th, 2012

A car stops beside a house in the middle of a newly built road in Wenling, Zhejiang province, November 22, 2012. [PHOTO: REUTERS/China Daily]
I’m probably going to take a lot of heat from people for the comparison I’m about to draw, but hear me out first. Then you can tell me that I’m being overly dramatic. Here it goes…

The photo above was taken last week in Xiazhangyang, China. This is the home of Luo Baogen and his wife. When the Chinese government offered them 260,000 yuan ($41,573 U.S.) to vacate their home so a new highway could be built, the elderly couple refused the offer…

Mr. Luo looks down from his house which stands alone in the middle of a newly built road in Wenling, Zhejiang province, November 22, 2012. [PHOTO: REUTERS/China Daily]
Unable to evict them without an agreement, the government decided to build the highway around the house – ALL around it. Nice heh? The road, which leads to Wenling Railway Station, has yet to be opened. But once it does, Mr. and Mrs. Luo can expect a steady stream of traffic driving through day and night. [See the story on NationalPost.com external link]

The home of Stacie Colaprete and Ariane Drew at 644 W. Main St.
Now, back here in the good old U.S. of A. This (above) is the home of Stacie Colaprete external link and Ariane Drew external link at 644 W. Main St. in Rochester, NY.

Stacie and Ariane already have a strip mall to the right of them. A year ago, Marvin Maye of Spencerport, NY, bought the church on the other side. He wants to demolish the church and lease the land to Dollar General so they can put a retail store there. Now imagine this is YOUR home – wedged between two low-end retail boxes and surrounded by asphalt…

If Dollar General moves in Stacie Colaprete and Ariane Drew will be boxed in by box stores and strip malls.
“Obviously we do not want to be surrounded on all sides,” Ariane says. “We will be forced to move if this plan goes through. We don’t have any personal issues with Marvin Maye, but just as he is doing what is best for him, we are doing what is best for us. Our stand is very clear. The question everyone else should ask is: what is best for the community? We do not believe a Dollar General is the answer.”

I understand full well that Marvin Maye has rights as a property owner. I own a home. I wouldn’t appreciate somebody telling me what I can and can’t do with it. But reality is, property owners also have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to maintain our property (Marvin knew his was a Designated Building of Historic Value when he bought it). We also have a responsibility not to undermine the value of our neighbors’ property, which a Dollar General would certainly do.

Rochester’s Project Review Committee has said external link this church should not be demolished. The Preservation Board has said external link this church should not be demolished. And on Thursday, the Zoning Board will have the final say.

Thankfully this isn’t communist China. This is America. And you can also have your say:

WHEN: Thursday at 11:30am (UPDATE: the meeting begins at 9:30am but the Dollar General case might begin anytime between 10:30 and 11:30. Be smart and try to get there as early as possible.)

WHERE: City Hall, 3rd Floor, City Council’s Chambers

WHAT: The Zoning Board will hear public comments and decide whether to allow the church at 660 West Main Street to be demolished for a Dollar General. Please attend this hearing and speak out against the demolition. If you cannot make the hearing, send your comments to Tim Raymond at tim.raymond@cityofrochester.gov.

P.S. – Don’t forget to watch Ghost Hunters tonight!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 8:12 am and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Boxed In”

  1. Thank you for this post. Well done!!

  2. kev says:

    Man why can’t they just use the church as the dollar general? That would actually be kind of unique.

  3. Mike D says:

    Or just put the Dollar General behind the strip mall and work out an agreement to combine the parking lot of the church

  4. Zack says:

    A dollar general is not what that neighborhood needs! There is one only a few blocks down.

  5. Matt says:

    In this regard, Rochester has China beat by decades:

    1. http://goo.gl/maps/Hb7Qs

    2. http://goo.gl/maps/ZCdnr

    3. http://goo.gl/maps/3X5pO

    4. http://goo.gl/maps/6BRNX

    The list is nearly endless, I had to stop myself at 4. This can just be one more notch in the belt of a city trying it’s hardest to accommodate cars with no regard for the fact that there are people in them and people without them.

  6. Matt says:

    Accommodate cars! Sorry for the omission.

  7. “But reality is, property owners also have responsibilities. ”

    Well said. The problem with today’s America is everyone believes they have a responsibility only to themselves. And, by extension, that companies only have a responsibility to their shareholders. This would be true if we never interacted with one another, but that’s not the reality we live in.

    If the zoning board approves the demolition of this building, I think it’s time to start actively working toward the removal of everyone on the board. They’re appointed by the Mayor, so the first step would be getting rid of him. No loss there.

    Sad. Despite the neighborhood, every time we drove by that church my wife and I both would sigh and mutter wishes that we could’ve afforded to buy it to turn it into a home…

  8. UPDATE: You can speak out against the demolition of the church at 660 W. Main St. tomorrow at City Hall.

    The Zoning Board Public Hearing begins at 9:30am. But the church demolition / Dollar General case could begin anytime between 10:30 and 11:30. Be smart and arrive as early as possible.

    See you there.

  9. Wayne Goodman says:

    I like “Kev’s” idea. A unique approach would be to use the building as a Dollar General. But, it would still be a low-end retail store. Here is the issue — and Subway hits the nail on the head. The rights of a property owner stop when the rights of everyone else are violated. Property rights do not give an owner the right to essentially steal property value from others, and in this case, many others. The entire area is on the up. Preservation has been a solid component to revitalization. Rehabs have taken place in the residential areas and also in the commerical areas. Urban pioneers are moving there and long-time residents are taking greater pride in the area. It is hard to believe that the best use for this space is a Dollar General that only provides a redundant service of already existing stores. The owner knew the building was protected. Until we stop giving in to people who purposely neglect property, then we will continue to actually encourage neglect. Do codes mean nothing? If I was a homeowner near this proposed development, I am not sure what I would do. If this is approved, then I have to ask what would it take to NOT approve something?


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