Northwest Civic Association board members expressed disbelief last week that a proposed 325-unit apartment complex on a narrow street off West Dublin Granville Road was going to have less of an impact on the traffic-choked street than the existing possible use would create.
But Gerald L. "Garry" Wilcox of the Lewis Center consulting firm Traffic Engineering Services he founded in 1986 stuck by his guns, even as audience members openly scoffed at his claim the apartments would generate 197 vehicle trips an hour during the peak time, just under the 200-vehicle threshold which kicks off a city code requirement for a full traffic study.
Last week marked the second time the proposed development came before the civic association trustees for an informal review.
Attorney Connie Klema is scheduled to return Dec. 5 to give a formal presentation and request a vote of support from NWCA board members for the rezoning request.
She will probably face a good deal of opposition from the audience in the second-floor meeting room of the Meadow Park Church of God on Bethel Road, and possibly from the board.
"We would be adamantly opposed to that apartment complex," Brookside Estates Civic Association President Tom Francis said after hearing the traffic comparison report from the consulting engineer.
He asked if his group should have a "show of force" at the December monthly meeting.
"Fill this room up," said Rosemarie Lisko, and NWCA board member.
Klema promised to have a more specific site plan, including the look and location of the apartment buildings, at the Dec. 5 session, but said she wanted to return last week in light of the reception Sept. 5 for client Vision Development of Upper Arlington's proposal.
The Pataskala attorney said she has applied for the rezoning to multifamily residential in behalf of her client.
Klema said her client is not suggesting there are no traffic issues in the two-lane stretch of state Route 161, across the street from the Village Bookshop.
"We know there are," she said.
But Wilcox in his appearance before the civic association sought to show that current zoning, which Klema said was obtained "many years ago" for the 23-acre site, would be far worse.
Current zoning, according to a Nov. 2 letter from Todd J. Stanhope of Traffic Engineering Services Inc. to P. Brent Wrightsel of Vision Development would allow:
* 5.25 acres of light industrial.
* 36,000 square feet of general office space.
* 109,000 square feet of shopping center.
* 4,000 square feet for a fast-food restaurant with drive-thru window.
Those uses, Stanhope wrote, would general 10,045 daily vehicle trips a day, compared with only 2,099 produced by the proposed apartments, figures computed using the eighth edition of "Trip Generation," published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
"The existing zoning would generate considerably more traffic than the proposed zoning," Wilcox said at the meeting.
"It's not a normal situation on that roadway," NWCA Trustee Jeanne Ashby said. "That train track kind of messes things up."
"It doesn't make sense," Trustee Greg Marietti said. "The formulas can't interpolate the situation."
"That single issue should shut this down," Francis said.
Klema took exception when NWCA Board Chairman John Ehlers suggested city officials would never let the property be developed with the current combination of commercial, office and light industrial uses.
"It is zoned that and could be developed that way," the attorney said. "Obviously we are down-zoning."
Klema went on to suggest that perhaps her client's apartment complex might finally force city officials to address traffic congestion problems on West Dublin-Granville Road.
"Maybe this will help contribute to a solution down the road and maybe a greater a good," she said.