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CAC turn-lane decision will have to wait

Commissioner's illness, 6-2 vote push discussion of long-controversial North Broadway plan to next Thursday

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

An especially vexing Clintonville problem is going to require a special meeting to address.

At least that's the plan for now as far as the Clintonville Area Commission and a resolution favoring installation of a left-turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street are concerned.

Commission members opted last week to put off a decision on whether to reverse course and once again support the potential project.

They are now scheduled to hold a special meeting on that subject alone at 7 p.m. next Thursday, March 21, at Beechwold Christian Church, 280 Morse Road.

Last week's absence of one of the nine commission members due to illness prompted Chairman Daniel J. Miller to propose postponing a vote on a resolution to once again support a plan city officials have devised to permit motorists traveling westbound on East North Broadway to turn south on North High Street.

That currently is prohibited.

Nancy Kuhel, whose District 2 boundaries begin directly across North High Street from the proposed project, had viral pneumonia, the discussion at the outset of the monthly meeting revealed.

"She obviously wants to participate in it because it's an important issue to her, as it is to probably everybody in this room," Miller said.

Dana K.G. Bagwell of District 5 objected to any delay.

"I'm concerned we're heading down a slippery slope as commissions in the past have done," she said.

Kuhel didn't want to develop pneumonia and miss the meeting, District 3's James R. Blazer II pointed out in backing the postponement. "It's only a courteous thing for the commission to do," he said.

By two 6-2 votes -- exactly the two-thirds majority required under the CAC's bylaws -- the members on hand approved a change in the order of the meeting's agenda and Miller's motion to postpone the discussion. Bagwell and D Searcy of District 9 voted against both measures.

That the vote on the resolution, first circulated by Miller via email Feb. 27, would be put off was apparently known in advance by some on the advisory panel.

Searcy arrived at the meeting with a typed letter calling for a special session on either March 14 or March 21.

Before the session was called to order, she got Bagwell, Jason Meek of District 7 and Kristopher Keller of District 8 to sign the letter.

Some in the audience reacted angrily to the move to delay a decision on what has become a divisive issue within the neighborhood.

"Tell us something," one man said loudly. "Tell us what you're going to do."

"We'll address these things later," Miller said, adding he would ask the man to leave if there were any further outbursts while also thanking him for his comments.

Prior to discussion of Searcy's letter, Miller and Blazer sparred over the rules for changing the agenda for a meeting. Blazer maintained that Robert's Rules of Order require approval for changes to an announced agenda, but Miller countered past practice had left setting the agenda up to the chairman or chairwoman.

"I disagree," Blazer said.

Searcy made a motion to discuss when to hold a meeting on the intersection project and it passed 7-0, with Blazer abstaining.

When Miller first sent out the proposed resolution, he also outlined a process for those who wish to be heard on the matter to sign up as speakers the night before last week's regular meeting. He said he would accept four speakers in favor of the resolution and four opposed. Nine people showed up at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library last week in response -- four against the measure and five in favor, Miller said.

Since the turn-lane project will be the only subject of the March 21 special meeting, Blazer suggested additional speakers should be allowed.

"I think you're going to have much more opinion than just four," he said.

"I'll keep that in mind at the special meeting as far as letting additional people speak," Miller said.

The resolution once again would have the commission favor 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 turn south on High Street.

The project is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the North Broadway Street Association in November 2010 against the city of Columbus, Franklin County, the Ohio Department of Transportation and others seeking to block the needed right-of-way acquisition. The suit maintains that actions taken by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in October 1952 gave residents along East North Broadway what had been public right of way as private property.

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