Raising Concerns: New Chicken Restaurant Irks Some Clintonville Residents

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It's down to the dirt at 5132 N. High Street, formerly a big grass lot that butted up to the Bill Moose Ravine.

"You could have had parked side-by-side another 3 or 4 cars into what would be the vast unknown," said Clintonville Area Commissioner D Searcy.  

But the bulldozers moved in and trees and part of the ravine got moved out to make way for a chicken place.

"A lot people right now are not very happy with Raising Cane's, as a matter of fact, they're sort of raising cane on their own,"  said Searcy.  She says a ravine with free-flowing water is protected by the city's storm water manual.  There would be easements on either side that can't be touched.

"Because this area was piped at one point, they decided that it didn't deserve those protections," said Maureen Lorenz with Friends Of The Ravine.

So the trees and the habitat could go.  "They filter pollution, they filter storm water, they keep water clean," said Lorenz.

Another issue: storm water runoff.  Letting sediment free-flow into streams is a big no-no with the EPA.  But EPA inspectors say the developer is running the sediment off into a pond.

"I think they did not do a good job of talking to the community first," Searcy said.

The reality is, Raising Cane's didn't need to.  The city says it's been completely in compliance all along.

The franchise responded by saying, to meet Clintonville code for building, they were forced to take part of the ravine, many of the trees were unhealthy and they have a plan to replant some trees.  They also say they found people involved in drug activity on the banks of the ravine and their aim is to improve the site.

Lorenz and Searcy both think there is a serious need for a tighter ordinance and plan to make a push for that.

"It points to the fact that there is no good protection for environmental spaces," said Lorenz.

Raising Cane's did just request a permit to demolish a vacant house on the property.  That will go before zoning Tuesday and the full commission Thursday.  If it doesn't pass, the project will be held up about 60 days.