Extra-long CAC meeting called as controversial issues abound

Talk on Olympic pool, Raising Cane's, Rusty Bucket all set for tonight's gathering at library


The last time a Clintonville Area Commission meeting threatened in advance to burst the seams of its two-hour time limit, Chairman Daniel B. Miller called for a special session 60 minutes earlier to focus solely on development issues.

The CAC won't be returning to its regular schedule anytime soon.

Two of the more-controversial matters up for consideration Aug. 7 wound up being tabled to the meeting set Sept. 4, and a third variance request is likely to attract just as many residents eager to make their opinions known.

This time around, Miller said last week, he's made special arrangements with Columbus Metropolitan Library officials to be able to remain in the meeting room of the Whetstone branch, 3909 N. High St., until 10 p.m.

The CAC's monthly meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and for the last several years have had to conclude two hours later, when the branch closes, because the city attorney's office ruled that the past practice of carrying on well beyond 9 p.m. was a violation of open-meetings laws. A public meeting cannot be held behind locked doors, the opinion stated, even if residents are advised in advance they have to be present prior to a certain time.

"We're planning on extending the meeting up to 10 o'clock," Miller said. "I'm hoping to be done by 9, but ... with all the issues on the zoning agenda, getting done by 9 o'clock might be too optimistic."

With sufficient notice, he added, a library security guard can be asked to remain on duty an additional hour so that people may come in during the meeting.

The Aug. 7 special session, devoted solely to cases that had come before the zoning and variance committee earlier in the week, also was needed since four people had requested time as guest speakers during the regular meeting. They included Alan D. McKnight, director of recreation and parks, addressing the issue of municipal pools in light of the impending closing of the Olympic Swim Club.

Variances being sought to clear the way for what opened as a community pool in 1938 to become a four-story, 138-unit apartment building, with restaurant and retail on the ground floor, are among the items scheduled for the Sept. 4 CAC meeting.

Some residents have expressed sorrow and even outrage that the fixture is being redeveloped; one group has launched a "Save the Olympic" Facebook campaign.

As the final season dwindled, the club was the scene of several incidents of vandalism, according to the pool's manager, Newt Jones.

Also on tap -- and two more targets of neighborhood controversy -- are a request for a demolition permit at 5132 N. High St. to make way for a Raising Cane's restaurant and several variances to permit construction of a Rusty Bucket eatery at 4109 N. High St.

The chicken-finger establishment was the subject of much ire from residents and environmentalists after some old-growth trees were removed from the property, which sits overtop a section of Bill Moose Run that's contained in a culvert. Although no state regulations or city ordinances were violated, Raising Cane's Ohio officials offered apologies for the actions at a community meeting Aug. 19.

The Rusty Bucket proposal, which was the focus of its own community meeting last week, has created controversy because the project would involve a partial filling of the Overbrook Ravine, "which will be lost to us forever," nearby resident Kevin Stacy wrote in an email last week trying to drum up attendance for the gathering at Overbrook Presbyterian Church.