Former career center site rezoning vote delayed
It's the kind of dilemma zoning attorneys must hate.
At last week's Northwest Civic Association Board of Trustees meeting, attorney Donald Plank heard from one resident of a proposed redevelopment of an abandoned school that she wouldn't want to see apartments on the site while another said she opposes commercial uses such as automotive repair.
In the end, Plank asked board members take no position on his client's request to rezone a portion of the Columbus City Schools former Northwest Career Center of Cranston Drive.
Wills Creek Capital Management is in contract to buy a building where automotive repair and other programs were taught at the career center before it was abandoned two or three years ago, according to Plank.
The building covers 45,000 square feet and occupies approximately six acres of the school property.
The deal for purchase is contingent upon the uses to which the site could be eligible, the attorney said, which is why his client is asking for commercial planned development rezoning to afford an array of potential tenants, from schools to auto repair.
"We're not going to buy the property until we get some answer on this," Plank said after requesting no vote to be taken.
Single-family homes, condominiums, some duplexes, a large apartment complex and a small shopping center surround the site of the former school, Plank told NWCA board members.
While retail is among the uses for which his client is seeking permission, the attorney said it would be small-scale in nature and not generate much traffic, certainly not something along the lines of a Wal-Mart, but rather an oil-change operation or something similar.
The building has several large overhead garage doors.
"It's really not as much a redevelopment as a reuse of the property," Plank said.
"It's a white elephant that my client thinks he can make some use of."
Commercial planned development zoning should be reserved for property facing major roadways, commented Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the board's zoning committee.
"CPD is too wide open," Lisko said. "It is surrounded by all-residential."
Mary Jo Conley, who lives next door to the site, asked about the possibility of apartment-development taking place there instead of commercial uses.
Plank said the overall site of more than 15 acres is zoned to permit almost 200 units.
"That would be a problem," Conley said.
Marilyn Shaw, who has lived in the same area for 32 years, objected to the possibility of automotive services, saying plenty of such operations are already located in the vicinity.
"It's not something that I would want to have there," Shaw said.
"It's designed for automotive repair," Plank said.
"It's still a traffic problem there," Lisko said. "I just don't think retail belongs in a neighborhood."
Another nearby resident, Daniel Granite, said a grassy area on the school site has become a "defacto park," the closest thing to a park in the area, and was wondering what could be done to preserve it as green space.
"You just can't," Plank replied.
The attorney vowed to work with Lisko to come up with a plan for the property that can be voted upon by NWCA board members in the future.