Northwest Civic Association board members last week once again put off making a final recommendation for a proposed apartment complex along West Dublin-Granville Road that will either add greatly to existing traffic woes or finally be the catalyst for getting the problem fixed.
Zoning attorney Connie Klema, who has been appearing before the civic group board since September seeking its backing for the controversial project, was again permitted to ask that the matter be tabled.
This time it was to allow Perry Township Trustee Chet J. Chaney a few weeks to see if he can bring together a multijurisdictional working group to begin to seriously address congestion problems along the two-lane street of state Route 161 between Sawmill Road and state Route 315.
That would include representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation, the cities of Columbus and Worthington, Perry Township, the Northwest Civic Association and possibly Ohio State University.
"We're trying to engage our sister governmental entities to sit down at the table and have a conversation about this," Chaney said at the civic association's monthly session.
What's been proposed for slightly more than 20 acres on the south side of West Dublin-Granville Road, almost directly across from the Village Bookshop, is a 325-unit apartment complex.
Upper Arlington-based Vision Development is seeking a rezoning to permit multifamily residential on land currently zoned for a shopping center, light industrial uses and office space, which Klema has described as a "down-zoning."
Vision Development would pay for widening that stretch of West Dublin Granville Road to provide for turn lanes into the development. It is expected to cost about $400,000.
Klema first gave an informal presentation to NWCA board members Sept. 5. She was back Nov. 7 with a traffic consultant who said existing zoning would produce far more vehicle trips than the apartments would.
The attorney returned Dec. 5 but, when it appeared board members were poised to recommend against the project after hearing concerns voiced by nearby residents over even more traffic problems where considerable ones already exist.
Klema offered to return with a site plan in hopes that seeing what the buildings would look like might make a difference for board members.
It didn't appear it was going to at last week's session.
"The traffic issue just makes it untenable to do something there," Board President John Ehlers said at the outset of the request's consideration.
Klema argued that having even more people, in the form of the apartment complex's residents, protesting about being stuck in snarled traffic on a routine basis, particularly when there's a train passing through on tracks just to the east, might make a difference in getting the problem resolved.
"Basically, the squeaky wheel gets the grease," she said.
"Maybe having a vacant piece of property isn't the way to get some things done," Klema added later in the discussion.
"I would hesitate to add to that in order to provide further incentive to the city to do something they haven't done for 20 years," Ehlers said.
Graphics and Zoning Committee Chairwoman Rosemarie Lisko, moments before proposing a motion the full board recommend disapproval, said she had contacted ODOT officials about any widening or other plans for West Dublin-Granville Road and was told there are none.
"Which means if the city of Columbus doesn't do it, it's not going to get done, and the city of Columbus tells me there's nothing in the plans," Lisko said.
She withdrew her motion for disapproval after suggesting that Klema might once again wish to have the proposal tabled. Klema agreed.
"There's no reason for us to have a quick death here tonight," Klema said.
"This problem didn't happen overnight, it's not going to be solved overnight," Chaney said.
"The multijurisdictional study is clearly the right path to take," said architect Dave Brehm, a former member of the Columbus Development Commission and a resident of Brookside Estates, one of the neighborhoods on West Dublin-Granville Road.
"We're trying to engage our sister governmental entities to sit down at the table and have a
conversation about this."
-- CHET J. CHANEY
Perry Township trustee