Northwest News

Condo residents, others protest apartments plan

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Dozens of people, many of them older residents of condominiums off Riverside Drive near West Case Road, turned out for last week's Northwest Civic Association meeting to voice their strident opposition to a proposed apartment complex.

In the end, the upset condo owners didn't get the satisfaction of having the association's few board members on hand back their position, but that seemed to be only because the attorney for the developer gladly delayed getting a formal recommendation.

Instead, Jeffrey L. Brown of Smith and Hale LLC, representing Casto Communities, vowed to lobby city officials to follow through on roadway improvements promised back in 2003 when land was rezoned to allow for construction of the condominiums whose owners so vehemently object to the 152-unit apartment development.

Brown also conceded it was unlikely the request to rezone the entire 11.1-acre site at 5450 Riverside Drive was going get the NWCA's backing.

"You're probably going to turn us down unless we can figure out a traffic 'Hail Mary,'" Brown said.

During his presentation, the attorney said several times that existing zoning of the site, 3.5 acres of which is commercial, could allow for an even more-dense development, including an extended-stay hotel operation with 212 units.

"We look at this basically as a downzoning," Brown said.

"I can make anything look better in comparison ... so I'm not buying your comparison," resident Terry Klinker said in response.

"I think the Northwest Side of Columbus has had it with all these apartments and extended-stay (hotels)," said Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the graphics zoning committee for the Northwest Civic Association.

Increased traffic, along with spoiled views, were the major concerns expressed by those among the 75 or so who attended the meeting and got an opportunity to speak before the rezoning was tabled.

The earliest the proposal can come back before the association's board is at the Feb 5 meeting.

NWCA President John Ehlers, who did not attend the meeting last week, has already announced cancellation of the January session, which would have fallen on New Year's Day.

"Traffic is terrible there," Brown said.

"I'm not going to argue that it's not."

However, he said Scioto Ridge, as the apartment project is being called, would generate one third less vehicle trips than if the 11-plus acres were fully developed with commercial zoning.

None of that seemed to sway the audience.

"This just seems like a terrible fiasco that's going to dump a whole lot of traffic in an area that wasn't meant to have that kind of traffic," said Jeri Milstead.

"I'm concerned about the lights, the vehicles, the noise," Lisa Perks stated.

"It's going to totally change the character of the neighborhood.

"It's unacceptable," Perks said.

"If the city is not going to widen that road, they cannot allow this zoning," James Crossley told NWCA members.

Justin Bird, with Casto Communities, said Scioto Ridge would consist of half one-bedroom and have two-bedroom units.

The smallest would be 760 square feet and rent for $925 a month while the largest would be 1,150 square feet and cost $1,250 a month.

Bird also said the projected cost for construction would be $95 a square foot, "which is very high for apartments."

The January meeting was presided over by Kyle Hartman, board secretary, in the absence of Ehlers, Vice President Greg Marietti and Treasurer Mark Krietemeyer, who arrived more than an hour after the session began.

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