Jurgen Kern stands in his field with a broad grin. "I am very happy about the outcome of the council decision", says the farmer after the decisive ballot, which took place in parallel with the state elections in Erlangen on Sunday. In the program, the citizens were asked by the city council whether they wanted "preparatory studies for a new district in the west of the city" would support.
Approximately 55 per cent of those eligible to vote voted with "no" so that the investigations decided in May by the city council to the planned mega-building area "West 3" cannot be continued. Mayor Florian Janik (SPD) has already called the vote a "defeat" and was "disappointed" shown about the outcome of the vote. "Democracy also brings defeats and this – albeit close – vote is a defeat", said Janik, who wants "affordable housing" on the 200-hectare site between Buchenbach and Herzogenaurach wanted to create.
Farmers did not believe Janik
Farmers, on the other hand, are in a jubilant mood. Like Antonius Korner, many people are still angry with the mayor. The head of the city had wanted to take the farmers by surprise and "secretly, quietly and silently" want to whip the urban development measure through the city council. In addition, Janik had "fooled" the citizens, that affordable housing would be built in the city’s western part. Many farmers can only laugh about it.
"I have six children. Everyone would like to live here. For normal earners Erlangen has long become unaffordable", says Johann Dengler, who has leased a lot of farmland in the planned development area, and refers to the high real estate prices in the recent new development areas in the west.
Protest with tractors
Together the farmers went to the barricades. They protested with tractors against the loss of the last arable land between Erlangen’s city west and the ever-approaching sports brand metropolis of Herzogenaurach. As a result, the mayor has taken the bull by the horns and brought a council decision to the table.
"Housing against farmland" was the secret title of this dispute, in which, to the astonishment of many observers, the farmers were able to reach many citizens with a powerful campaign. A young woman, whose riding stable is located on the planned site of the new construction area, took professional photos of the farmers. With thousands of supporters, a colorful "Ackerfest" was held celebrated. Shortly before the ballot, the initiative organized a rally in the city. Many opposition parties, such as the CSU or the oDP, have sided with the protesting farmers from the very beginning.
CSU wants small building areas
CSU faction leader Jorg Volleth, for example, warned of the "end of farms in the city’s west", if the traffic light coalition had won the council referendum. Volleth does not want to prevent apartments in the west. The CSU wants to develop smaller building areas step by step together with the landowners and farmers. On the other hand, Mayor Janik (SPD) in particular has loudly campaigned for "West 3" in conjunction with the green and yellow coalition partners in the City Hall traffic light used.
"This defeat will stick to the mayor", Volleth is certain of this and refers to the "lord of the manor" approach, with which Janik wanted to pull the project through. In the city west, Florian Janik has "scorched earth" left behind, the CSU leader finds.
The oDP, on the other hand, wants to protect the fields from land grabbing in the long term. "In other regions houses decay and jobs are reduced", annoyed oDP city councillor Barbara Grille. Farmers in the booming Huguenot city would also welcome a new master plan for the region. So that their fields would not soon be turned into building land. Grille is annoyed that the traffic light coalition in the city hall "thinks people are stupid" wanted to sell. Young families with low incomes would hardly have found affordable living space in the new district, Grille is sure, with a view to the already existing new development areas "West 1" and "West 2" sure.