Walden officials this week put off approval of a proposed general site plan for a grocery store, and a lawsuit by citizens against the town related to the project is to go to mediation on Aug. 20.
Town officials decided on Tuesday to revisit the proposed site plan on Aug. 25 at a special meeting following questions over proposed conservation easements and an open space protection plan.
Walden Vice Mayor Lee Davis and landowner John Anderson clashed during a more than two-hour meeting, much of it dealing with the proposed Taft Highway and Timesville Road development.
"He's taking the scraps of a development, shoving them at us and calling it a park," Davis said about one part of the plan. "Future generations will look at us and ask, 'What in world are you doing?"'
Anderson termed a comment by Davis related to changes in plans "a disingenuous characterization."
"This site plan shows all the elements required by the ordinance at this point," he said. "I ask the board to approve it."
But Davis called on Anderson to take back his plan and rethink it.
"I'd be glad to give him my comments," Davis said. "This is the type of problem that gets towns into deep litigation. Nowhere in these documents is an indemnity from future owners if any problems come up. That leaves us exposed. Crafting these documents on the fly is not something we should be doing."
Anderson said it wasn't accurate to say the board has "to take or leave" the plan.
"I suggest we approve the open space protection plan subject to review or changes," he said, terming it as conceptual. "I tried to offer a compromise that was an improvement to the town. I am trying to be accommodating to the town and its concerns."
Town attorney Sam Elliott suggested a special meeting later in the month to deal with the issues related to the project, with he and Anderson talking before then.
"Let Mr. Anderson and I deal with it," he said. "That way we're not delaying a whole month but delaying it to get it right. It addresses the vice mayor's concern."
Meanwhile, a lawsuit brought earlier this year is expected to undergo mediation before the special meeting.
Two Walden residents and another person who lives in Hamilton County near the planned grocery store project claimed the town board that passed an ordinance last year allowing the project to move forward was in direct conflict with a land-use plan and zoning.
"The decisions of the Town Board in passing the ordinance and approving the development were illegal, arbitrary and capricious and this court should overturn them," said the suit filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court by attorney Douglas Berry of Miller & Martin.
But Anderson and the town denied that the ordinance was improperly approved.
Anderson said the decision by the town board late last year was "supported by material evidence, had a rational basis, was fairly debatable and was not arbitrary, capricious or illegal." The town said it had the authority to decide planning and zoning matters in the case involving proposed construction of the 44,000-square-foot grocery store and small shop space.
While Anderson has said he's under a confidentiality agreement with the store owner and hasn't revealed the name of the grocer, Food City tried unsuccessfully earlier to put a supermarket in the nearby town of Signal Mountain.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.