Shopping center critics launch website

Organizer Ron Peltier collects signatures at the ferry terminal for a petition opposing the proposed retail center on the corner of Highway 305 and  High School Road with fellow protestor Tami Meader. - Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review
Organizer Ron Peltier collects signatures at the ferry terminal for a petition opposing the proposed retail center on the corner of Highway 305 and High School Road with fellow protestor Tami Meader.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

Islanders opposed to a shopping center near Highway 305 and High School Road have expanded their protest beyond their strategic street corner near the site of the proposed development.

They are now taking their cause into the community and across the World Wide Web.

Demonstrators with Islanders for Responsible Development have lined the corner every Tuesday over the past month.

Visconsi Companies of Ohio has proposed to build a new shopping center and a 20,000-square-foot medical facility on the site. The center will include a Bartell Drugs store, retail and restaurant space.

The group recently launched a website to rally others in opposition to the development. The website, www.environ, includes instructions on how to submit comments to the city about the proposed retail center. It also explains why the group opposes the development.

In addition to their website and roadside demonstrations, the group has also begun circulating a petition around the island, collecting signatures in opposition to the project. So far they have collected more than 400 signatures.

“Many folks who are opposed to the Visconsi development are not comfortable standing out there with a sign,” said Ron Peltier, an organizer with Islanders for Responsible Development. “We are going to give those folks an outlet for their concerns.”

That “outlet” is the petition. The group began collecting signatures for their petition June 30.

The petition states that the proposal will bring urban sprawl and unnecessary commercial space at the cost of the island’s environment. It further expresses concerns over increased traffic at the intersection, safety from lumber yard operations at the other end of the site, and the scale of the development.

The group also claims the scale and location of the project violate the city’s comprehensive plan.

The petition concludes that Visconsi and the city should remedy community concerns or permits for the project should be denied.

Peltier also noted that the group has met with a land-use attorney to begin developing a legal basis for their opposition, with the “overall goal of improving” the project.

“We are not opposed to development, per se, we are just in favor of smart development which respects the values and needs of the community,” Peltier said. “We believe that most Bainbridge Islanders are not in favor of the development as proposed.”

The petition is only one aspect of the group’s efforts. During the July 4 festivities, Islanders for Responsible Development shared a booth with the Association of Bainbridge Communities to get word out about the project and their concerns with it.

They have also collected signatures at the ferry terminal.

Peltier hopes that through community effort, the development will better reflect Bainbridge Island.

“We feel it necessary, for our self-respect, to stand up for our community against a big corporation forcing an unwanted development on us,” he said, “and against a city bureaucracy which has grown fond of developer money.”

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