Updated: Apr 25, 2022
The Citizens Action Group (CAG) continues to work in opposition to the Menards Market at Medina Line. We believe that the Granger Township zoning commission and Trustees acted irresponsibly in approving this ill-conceived development that will substantially diminish the quality of life, property values, and overall health and well-being of Township and local residents. The CAG is not inherently opposed to all development and we respect the rights of property owners. However, we believe that development should be responsible, consistent with the Township’s zoning provisions in “maintaining the rural character of the Township”, and benefit the Township beyond the simplistic premise of increasing County and Township tax revenues.
From a cost-benefit perspective, Township officials have suggested figures reflecting the tax windfall that this development will generate. These assertions have been made absent any supporting rationale or analyses. More importantly, no cost-benefit analysis has ever been provided by either Granger Township or Menards, despite multiple requests from residents during public meetings. Moreover, the Township has failed to assess the cost impact on the Township while refusing to commission an independent traffic study to understand the impact of the substantial traffic increase that this development will most certainly drive through our Township.
Today, Granger Fire/EMS services are provided by a volunteer force with safety services provided by the Medina County Sherriff’s department. In this regard, Township officials have refused to recognize the substantial increase in 911 calls reported by Cuyahoga Falls safety services which are specific to their local Menards store, let alone for a 125 acre development containing another big box store plus nearly a dozen substantial outlots. The Township also refuses to acknowledge that the Cuyahoga Falls data conflicts with the “typical number of calls” suggested by Menards. Further, the Township continues to fail to respect Sunshine Laws by being unresponsive to resident’s requests for analyses performed by the Township on the local Fire/EMS and Sherriff’s departments’ capacity to support the substantial number of safety calls to this development. One can only conclude that these analyses were either never performed, or the Township simply doesn’t want to acknowledge that the development will result in tax increases to the residents to fund full time Fire/EMS and safety services.
Menards gets an “F” from the better business bureau, and their track record raises significant concerns in suggesting that they cannot be relied upon to be a good community partner. Menards has previously fought and won lawsuits to reduce their property tax liability in other communities by arguing that their taxes should be the same as similarly sized but vacant stores, sometimes referred to as the “dark store theory.” Publicly available information further suggests that Menards has a long history of lawsuits involving tax scandals, illegal dumping of hazardous waste, violations of workers’ rights and privacy, theft of workers’ wages, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination.
Throughout this review, Township officials have turned a blind eye to the detrimental environmental impacts of this development, which will clearly increase air, light and noise pollution in our area. The development’s design and location pose a particular threat to the community as it is in close proximity to the headwaters of the Yellow Creek Watershed and adjacent to roads with existing flooding problems. Invaluable wetlands will be replaced with retention ponds which we believe are insufficient to address the disruption to our waterways and the threats of additional flooding and pollution in critical areas.
Additionally, we believe that development of this magnitude should happen in collaboration with the community. Throughout the Township’s review of this project, meeting times have been changed at the last minute, meetings have been held during power outages, important decisions have been made during the pandemic lockdown while those without internet or computer access could not be present or participate. Public meetings provided for limited public comment – with little to no meaningful dialog in response to questions and concerns raised by the citizens in attendance. Questions posed in writing to the township have not been answered. Prior to the pandemic, meetings at the township administration building had standing room only because of the number of people who came out to oppose the project. A petition circulated by CAG has approximately 560 signatures against the Menards Development, and public records requests of citizen comment show far more people who have spoken against the development than for it. All of this has been ignored, and we believe that the people who live here, who will be most affected by this development, should have a voice.
Finally, CAG has concerns that this development’s approval process has suffered from underexamined conflicts of interest on the part of the Township officials entrusted with reviewing Menard’s applications. Residents’ concerns regarding these ethical issues are a matter of public record, having been formally submitted to the Township in response to the call for public feedback in August of 2020.
All of us have a relationship to the land; whether we are aware of it or not, our food, water, homes are all dependent on a thriving ecosystem. Many of our members cite this relationship as the reasons we are against this project. We understand on a fundamental level that it is soil and water and sunlight that give life, not concrete. Farmland is disappearing, and farmers and families without significant wealth cannot afford to compete with developers. Certainly, this is an issue everywhere, but we must all start in our own communities. It is here that we have the most responsibility to protect the land and to ensure that people and the land can thrive together for generations to come.