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North Broadway

Turn lane back on CAC plate tonight

With four new commissioners, group will take another look at divisive issue

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Carole W. Tomko had a ready explanation why the chairman of the Clintonville Area Commission would announce last week that yet another proposal supporting a controversial left-turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street would come before the advisory panel.

"Incompetent leadership," the North Broadway Street Association president said.

Naturally, CAC Chairman Daniel J. Miller offered quite 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 commission will meet at 7 p.m. today, March 7, at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.

The resolution, which would be subject to possible amendment at the commission's session, basically would reset the panel's position back to what it was prior to a surprise vote taken at an October 2010 special meeting.

The panel now has four new members from the one that took the 5-4 vote in opposition to the project.

The current proposal 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 to 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 Street and Indianola Avenue.

The resolution up for consideration states the "CAC recommends that the city not undertake any infrastructure improvements that would require widening the paved roadway of East North Broadway ... between Broadway Place and Indianola Avenue greater than the paved roadway's current width." It further requests an ordinance to that effect.

Residents living along side streets have complained about the traffic generated by drivers attempting to avoid the intersection in order to turn south onto North High Street.

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 on the part of area commission members. Coleman wrote he supported the turn lane, but wasn't going to push for it in the face of apparent community objections.

"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. "(Coleman's) 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."

Tomko said she was "stunned" that Miller had brought the issue forward.

"As an officer of the courts, he is very well aware that this plan is the core of the litigation between North Broadway and the city of Columbus and the county of Franklin. I'm not sure quite why it would come up now," she said.

In anticipation of a potential outpouring of opinions on the resolution at tonight's meeting, Miller wrote in the email distribution of the document that he would limit public comment to four people in favor of it and four opposed. Those people were to be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis Wednesday, March 6, at the library.

Tomko said she would not be among those to speak at the meeting.

"I've got nothing to say," she said. "I'm a plaintiff to the lawsuit against the city. What else can I say?"

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