September 2007

 
Mike Tyson, Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Bowling Green Citizens Group Takes Action and Passes Referendum

Between 2000 and 2005 the Bowling Green residential neighborhoods were under extreme pressure with an explosion of student apartment rentals and homes being converted to student rentals. The final straw was when a Texas developer took over a quiet family neighborhood in the outskirts of town and built multiple apartment buildings towering over the single family ranch homes. The city told neighbors there is nothing anyone could do to scale back the massive project.



On the night this project was approved, Mike Tyson, a well-established businessman, took action and Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth Inc. was created. The group conducted seminars, attended city meetings and met with Bowling Green ’s City Planner multiple times to discuss zoning and planning issues. A Zoning Reform Recommendation Guide was compiled by Mr. Tyson and distributed to city leaders.

In 2005, the Bowling Green Planning Commission and City Council approved a rezoning request of a Florida developer to build a $40 million student apartment project on farm land east of I-75 away from Campus. This decision disregarded both the Bowling Green Master Plan and the City Planner’s recommendation not to approve the rezoning. The I-75 overpass is dangerous for pedestrians, with no walkway or bike path provided.

Smart Growth Inc. placed a referendum on the November 2006 ballot to allow citizens to vote on whether this rezoning decision should be reversed. Over 900 signatures were collected in just 8 days. The petition was challenged by the landowners at the Common Pleas Court and the 5th District Court of Appeals. The petition was ruled valid and 59% of the voters said no to more large scale student apartments. The City Council had to reverse the zoning, returning it to agricultural. Another large-scale housing/retail project east of I-75 was rejected by BGSU Trustees.

Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth has made a positive impact and helped to create a new vision for the direction of the growth of Bowling Green on zoning and planning matters. The character and quality of life in Bowling Green has been preserved by the efforts of this grass roots organization, the vision of a concerned citizen who took action, Mike Tyson. Mike can be reached at mtyson@wenet.org.