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Board sides with CAC, rejects cell-tower variances

Columbus officials' decision kills plans for Indianola Avenue structure

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Variance requests that would have permitted a 100-foot cell tower to go up less than 50 feet from residential property near Indianola Avenue were unanimously rejected last week by members of the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

"We were very glad that they backed up Clintonville's decision about the cellphone tower," said Libby Wetherholt, the Clintonville Area Commission's District 3 representative.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said Jeff Frontz, a south Clintonville resident who had been vocal in his opposition to a tower so close to residential properties. "It reaffirms my belief in the process."

The Board of Zoning Adjustment apparently was the final stopping point on the quest to bring the cell tower to the lot at 3005 Indianola Ave.

Cbjm Development LLC's Kristopher M. Nickel, who represented August T. Simmons, the owner of the lot, was asked for his client's reaction to the vote.

"I can't comment on that," Nickel said.

Wetherholt said about 15 neighborhood residents showed up at the board hearing on the requested variances that would have permitted a 100-foot T-Mobile tower at the site of a long-vacant home that is now zoned for commercial uses.

While it is officially in a commercial zone, "that commercial zone there is so narrow -- that's where the problem comes in," Wetherholt said.

About seven residents voiced their dismay that such an installation would be proposed within 45 feet of private homes, the CAC member said.

One of the requested variances was a reduction of the requirement that cell towers be located twice as far as they are tall from residential properties. In this instance, that would have been 200 feet.

The CAC voted unanimously to recommend rejection of the variances at its July 10 session.

Wetherholt said she was gratified the zoning board followed that recommendation.

"They always have the ability to overrule what the commission does, so that was my only concern that they might," she said. "I think they agreed with us that the applicant had not demonstrated the need."

"It was actually very interactive," Frontz said. "They asked a lot of very good questions about the hardship, can you describe the hardship, and pushing back on arguments he was trying to lay out.

"It was clear based on their questions that they were professionals and they knew all the right questions to ask. It was a positive experience."

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