Land Use: Retail Center
Overcoming Neighborhood Resistance to a Proposed Retail Shopping Center
In 2009, an application was submitted in the City of Lancaster for a major new shopping center that would include a CVS pharmacy, a gas station, restaurants and a future home improvement retailer. The limited developable retail land in a predominantly residential part of town drove the need for the project. While housing had sprung up across the region, with no land set aside for retail uses, residents in this part of town had no local shopping or dining options.
Despite the sensible land-use planning embodied in bringing retail choice closer to residential areas, the process was daunting. Bringing new retail centers to this region would require the arduous task of changing land-use designations and zoning despite community opposition from adjoining neighbors. Some of these voters expressed concern that changing the land use designation of nearby properties would impact their quality of life and harm their property values
Community Relations: Given the grassroots nature of the opposition to this project, Passantino Andersen conducted extensive door-to-door canvassing, multiple direct mail communications, individual and group-style briefings and constant engagement. We formulated a messages that characterized this project as an important community amenity to the West side by expanding retail choice, bringing new jobs to the region and increasing convenience for nearby residents. In doing so, we changed the debate to reflect positive attitudes for the project. We also mobilized this coalition of supporters to attend public hearings and express their support for this important local project. One way we we encouraged people to voice their opnions was through letters to the editor in local newspapers:
Government Relations: to offset a perception of overwhelming opposition to the project, we developed a community petition, collecting more than 600 signatures from area residents, as well dozens of letters of support. We also conducted an exhaustive mail survey to a four square mile area, which clearly showed overwhelming support for the project. These expressions of support were communicated to the City frequently throughout the entitlement process.
Following a three-hour public hearing, with testimony from dozens of project supporters, the Planning Commission approved the project unanimously, sending it on to the City Council, which also approved the project unanimously.