The chairman of the Clintonville Area Commission announced Wednesday, Feb. 27, that yet another proposal supporting a controversial left-turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street will come before the advisory panel at its March 7 session.
North Broadway Street Association President Carole W. Tomko had a quick explanation for why the matter would be considered now, while a lawsuit against the project is still wending its way through the court system.
“Incompetent leadership,” she said Feb. 27.
Earlier that day, CAC Chairman Daniel J. Miller offered a different reason.
“The issue has been sent back to us by (Mayor Michael B. Coleman), and it’s up to us to respond,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to weigh in.”
The resolution, which would be subject to possible amendment at the March 7 commission session, would basically reset the panel’s position back what it was prior to a surprise vote taken at an October 2010 special meeting. That stance favors using the “existing right-of-way on the northern side of East North Broadway … between North High Street and Broadway Place to widen the roadway pavement between approximately three feet, at Broadway Place, and 10 feet, at North High Street … ” for the purpose of accommodating a left-turn lane for westbound traffic to head south on High Street.
Left turns currently are prohibited for motorists traveling in that direction.
The issue has been a divisive one in the neighborhood, with East North Broadway residents adamantly opposing the project. Many claim it would be a precursor to further widening of the historic street between North High and Indianola Avenue. Residents living along side streets have complained about the traffic generated by drivers avoiding the intersection in order to make the turn south onto North High.
The North Broadway Street Association filed a lawsuit in November 2010 against the city, county and other parties seeking to block the left-turn lane from being built. The suit relies on actions taken by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in October 1952 that, according to the argument, gave residents along East North Broadway what had been public right of way as private property.
On Nov. 8, 2010, Coleman issued a memo to the directors of the departments of development and public service calling for a moratorium on the turn-lane project until a change of heart upon the part of area commission members. Coleman wrote that he supported the turn lane, but wasn’t going to push for it in the face of apparent community objections.
The panel now has four new members from the one that took the 5-4 vote in opposition to the project in October 2010.
“I agree with his position that the left-hand turn lane and the other improvements that would come with it would increase the possibility of development of commercial properties around the intersection,” Miller said Feb. 27. “His memorandum squarely put the issue back onto the commission. He stated he disagreed with the commission’s position at the time and I believe that the commission’s position in October 2010 did not reflect the collective will of the Clintonville neighborhood. I think that the residents of Clintonville are interested in responding to the mayor’s call for the commission to make a decision to either affirm or change the position that the commission took.
“That’s why the resolution is coming before the commission.”
In anticipation of a potential outpouring of opinions on the resolution March 7, Miller wrote in the email distribution the document that he would limit public comment to four people in favor of it and four opposed.
Miller wrote he would accept requests for those eight spots at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St., at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tomko said she would not be among those to seek a speaking slot at the monthly meeting.
“I’ve got nothing to say,” she said. “I’m a plaintiff to the lawsuit against the city. What else can I say?”