When government meets government, sometimes citizens on either side of the divide feel helpless.
Over the strenuous and numerous objections of some Sharon Township residents, the Northwest Civic Association Board of Trustees voted 8-1 to back a proposed expansion of an outpatient surgery center and medical office building at 930 Bethel Road.
"It's a successful operation," development attorney Donald Plank said of the Ohio Surgery Center.
That's why the doctor-owners want a 7,290-square-foot addition, a reduction of the setback from Sharon Hill Drive from 86 feet to 43 feet and 134 parking spaces, as opposed to the maximum allowed by city regulations of 111 spaces.
"They need that number of spaces," Plank assured the trustees.
He added that typically, the setback between residential properties and office uses is 10 to 40 feet.
Resident after resident of Sharon Hill Drive protested the reduced setback will dramatically increase the amount of traffic noise invading their homes from Bethel Road.
They expressed concerns about flooding of their basements and garages resulting from rain running off the parking lots of nearby condominiums only being made worse by the surgical center's addition.
"Treat us like neighbors," Saundra Woodruff said to Plank.
"Treat us with the same courtesy and respect we treat each other.
"They don't care," she then said to the members of the board.
The plan being put forward by the Ohio Surgery Center's attorney doesn't contain any provisions for replacing trees that will be cut down as part of the expansion, complained Sylvia Warner.
"That isn't acceptable," she said.
Plank's client will plant some trees, he indicated.
"You represent us," Bill Miller told the trustees.
"We ask that we don't continue to be abused by the development around us," Miller said.
"That's not technically true," countered Board President John Ehlers.
While the civic association attempts to serve all residents of the Northwest Side, all the members are required to live in the city of Columbus and the group makes recommendations to City Council, Ehlers said.
"The medical center is a good neighbor," said Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the board's zoning, graphics and development committee.
Kellie Ehlers, wife of the board president and a relatively new member on the panel, cast the lone vote against the motion to support the application.
The proposal was scheduled to come before the Columbus Development Commission tonight, Thursday, June 13.
Ehlers and Lisko advised the Sharon Hill Drive residents to restate their objections before the commission.
"Make sure you have a plan when you get there," Lisko said.
After that, she added, even though they don't live in the city, the Sharon Township residents could still plead their case when the proposal comes before Columbus City Council for a final ruling.