Northwest News

Residents oppose the plans

Bethel Road medical office expansion request delayed

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Sharon Township residents living behind a medical office building at 930 Bethel Road say their yards, basements and garages already flood from heavy rains.

They turned out in force at last week's Northwest Civic Association Board of Trustees meeting to protest a proposed expansion of the facility they contend would only make things worse.

Some also expressed concerns removal of trees as part of the project would subject them to much more in the way of noise from busy Bethel Road.

In the end, although the developer's attorney pointed out issues such as water problems aren't addressed through zoning matters, the request was shelved until the civic association's next meeting, scheduled for June 5.

Attorney Donald Plank agreed to return with an engineer and elevation drawings for the project.

Residents indicated they would be returning, as well.

What was being proposed in a requested rezoning from the limited commercial designation obtained in 1996 is a commercial planned development to allow a 7,290-square-foot expansion of the existing 15,024-square foot outpatient surgery center and medical practice.

The applicant is seeking more parking than is required under the code and a reduction in the setback on the north side from 86 feet to 43 feet. The increased parking area would require removal of a number of trees in a forested area.

"It's significantly more than the standard setback," Plank said.

"Those woods offer a buffer from Bethel Road and the crime," said Saundra Woodruff.

Her husband, Mark Woodruff, added the difference in the amount of noise heard at their Sharon Hill Drive home in the summer when the trees have leaves and the winter when they don't is significant.

One of their neighbors expressing worries was Stig M. Bergstrom, professor emeritus in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University.

"We have a terrible problem with erosion after the 1996 development," said Bergstrom, whose earned his doctorate at Lund University in Sweden in 1961.

Bergstrom said he calculated 10,000 more gallons of water would run off from the developer's following an hour of heavy rain if what is currently forest becomes part of the parking lot.

"This is, I think, a very serious problem that should not be swept under the rug," Bergstrom said.

Removing the trees, some of them 50 to 100 years old, in the reduced setback area will "dramatically change the dynamic of the neighborhood," resident Shelby Warner stated.

"This affects all of us," Saundra Woodruff said.

"I don't mean to be callous about this, but this is kind of what you bought into when you bought in an area with septic systems," Board President John Ehlers said.

The unhappy residents were advised they could speak again at the June 5 session, at the Development Commission meeting during which the proposal will be heard and before Columbus City Council, where the final decision will be rendered.

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