Alex MacNicol talked, and the planning commission listened.
After weighing conflicting advice from MacNicol, director of the Erie Regional Planning Commission, and Tim Lloyd, senior project engineer for the Erie County Engineer's office, commissioners voted to approve a preliminary plan for the planned Lakecrest Town Center shopping center at the northeast corner of Strub Road and U.S. 250.
Plans for the 59 acre site include a Menards and an Aldi store.
Gary Marshall, representing developers JRSMI, LLC of Cleveland, said the project needs to advance so that it will succeed and asked the planning commission to approve the preliminary plan. He said any remaining problems will be addressed in the final plans.
"Time is not our friend here," Marshall said.
After an earlier plan was submitted, the county engineer's office submitted a list of 28 criticisms.
Matthew Rogers, project engineer for the county engineer's office, said the office particularly objects to allowing the project to have an entrance on U.S. 250 opposite the entrance to Ohio Veterans Home. The earlier plan threatens to add to safety problems and congestion on U.S. 250, Rogers said.
The planning commission, which met Thursday night at the County Services Center, considered a preliminary plan revised to meet many of Rogers' objections. For example, developers agreed to move the entrance so that it no longer faced the OVH entrance.
Lloyd said he recognized developers had made improvements, but there were still too many unanswered questions.
He said he would prefer to wait until a traffic impact study is completed.
MacNicol asked the planning commission to OK the preliminary plan and iron out any problems in the final plan.
"Everything has to be addressed in the final plan," he said, adding that's the time to do detailed engineering.
MacNicol said one key point is the developer has borrowed money from the state to clean up the former Bechtel McLaughlin industrial site.
The planning office is concerned that if the project fails, "we'll be stuck with that forever," MacNicol said.
The commissioners approved the preliminary plan.
Earlier this month, MacNicol completed a tax increment financing deal that will use tax revenues raised by the project to help pay for a road servicing the shopping center.