It's the old "'You can't fight City Hall'' or Big Money scenario. This could be a movie—Marhofer versus Thorndale Avenue.
An audience would surely be appalled watching the big car giant so arrogantly receiving his every wish and command from the city, with no regard for it's affected residents. Their mouths would drop in awe when witnessing the belittling treatment the residents endure from the city officials (who are supposed to protect them) when voicing their legitimate concerns while so desperately trying to protect their homesteads.
They would hear the whispers of a past official, overheard by a residents young child in the meeting room, saying her mommy is ''Done for'' because she is against the expansion.
They witness money man hit a roadblock, because he and the officials overlook an important zoning code that legally prohibited the proposed expansion. A resident's attorney discovered this and that stalled things—for a little while. Audiences would be horrified watching with what ease big money man gets city to change their entire zoning codes so that money man's building is now a conforming use, instead of the non-conforming use he was . They would be informed that past officials believed the dealership shouldn't be there, as it did not conform. The neighborhood existed first, then a small Marhofer repair shop, then the city approved a non-conforming dealership, then let him expand further. The audience would wonder ''How could this change happen so effortlessly?” They will wonder why the city didn't take its way out right then and there!
They will see the rest of the city's residents go about their business, because, well, let's be honest, it's not their street, it doesn't affect them. They don't understand why the people who live on the street are putting up such a fuss. What they aren't aware of is that now there is potential for a car dealership to be built on the corner of their street in the future. Audiences will witness a resident ask a council member how they are going to prevent this from happening, and he playfully assures her that ......''Of course council would not approve of one at the end of an affluent neighborhood." The audience will wonder why a notice wasn't sent to every homeowner near the affected 2 acre-plus lots that has potential to become a car dealership with this zoning code change? They will say to themselves in jest, ''Gee, hope this never happens to me.''
You would hear the audience gasp in horror when they hear a planning commission member tell Thorndale residents that if the rezoning of three homes for expansion is not approved, then big money man is stuck with those homes! They will shout out "What? Did he really just say that so blatantly?” The audience would be able to feel the heavy hearts of the residents, and see the exasperation on their faces. They will think ''Shouldn't the question be: why did big money man purchase these homes prior to receiving approval?” The audience would naturally be trying to figure out if the city and big money man already came to an agreement, and are they now just going through the motions?
They would feel pity for the residences when city officials say things like, ''Well, you knew the dealership was at the end of the road when you bought the house, didn't you?" They would hear this resident try to reason with the officials saying "Yes sir, however, I was not aware it would be halfway up my street, next door to me, or directly across the street.'' They would wonder, have the officials visited this neighborhood to see first hand the effects? The loss of 50-plus century old trees that serve as a buffer from the main roads for the residents? Do they care at all about the loss of value to these homes? The children that play there? The quality of life that will be lost for the residents?
They would purse their lips in anger when hearing big money man ferociously say he believes the attractiveness of the new building will increase the value of their homes. They will think to themselves, ''Yeah, let's see how he likes it if one takes half of his street.''
They will witness countless efforts by the residents to bring attention to many other viable land available within the city, trying to compromise to no avail. They will realize that there is no compromise to suit big money man. He cares not about the people or compromise, and has been enabled by our officials to continue to do so.
Audiences will ask why officials never demanded a Plan B as requested. They will conclude that big money man felt confident officials would approve his plans, and that is why he spent big bucks on architects, property acquisition, etc., even before it went to planning commission. It will be brought to their attention that the city's Comprehensive Plan encourages business development, but not at the expense of the integrity of existing neighborhoods, and that the majority of city officials twist that to mean what they need it to when it's addressed. They will hear big money man say this is the most economic option for him. They will sense by big money man's actions and attitude that he cares not about being a good neighbor and that deals with the devil have been made.
The audience will be bewildered that the proposed new dealership is equivalent in size to the old, and that the proposed new plan actually reduces the amount of parking spaces for inventory by close to half. They will be confused why officials don't consider easing up on the new building set back rules so that big money man could rebuild in the same spot, giving everyone what they need and leaving the near century old neighborhood intact? They will think to themselves that the officials have been able to easily change other items of city codes, so why not this one? The audience will be on the edge of their seat hoping that someone, somewhere has compassion for the residents and will help them stand up for what's right.