This year in Upper Arlington included a blizzard, a hurricane and a firestorm over the city's decision to privatize trash collection services.

This year in Upper Arlington included a blizzard, a hurricane and a firestorm over the city's decision to privatize trash collection services.

The following is a look back at several major developments that impacted the city in 2008.

In late winter, Upper Arlington came out relatively unscathed from the 20-inch snowstorm that hit central Ohio on Friday and Saturday,, March 7 and 8. Schools, libraries, churches and recreation programs closed, but there were relatively few weather-related emergencies other than a few minor traffic accidents, according to police and fire officials.

The only power outage was caused by a pole fire on International Street near American Electric Power's Roberts Station power plant in northwest Columbus. About 800 customers were affected, for about seven hours.

A drastically different outcome occurred on Sept. 14, when a windstorm caused by Hurricane Ike ravaged the region.

Immediately after the storm, 85 percent of Upper Arlington was without power. At one point, traffic lights weren't working at 39 of 54 intersections in the community.

Between 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 and 7 a.m. on Sept. 15, the Upper Arlington Police/Fire Communications Center fielded 120 emergency calls, compared to a normal daily average of 12 to 15. More than 150 street trees were damaged or destroyed in the storm. Awnings were destroyed at Devon Pool, causing the pool to close for the season one week early.

Some residents were without power for a full week. The city collected 20.1 tons of spoiled food at a drop-off at Thompson Park.

Private property damage was estimated at $2-million.

A storm of a different sort resulted from the city's December 2007 decision to dismantle its Solid Waste Division and contract with a private company, Texas-based Inland Service Corp. After Inland took over collection of trash and recycling in April, a group of citizens began an initiative petition to give citizens an opportunity to vote to overturn the city's decision to privatize.

City attorney Jeanine Amid Hummer filed a motion on Aug. 29 with the Franklin County Board of Elections protesting the initiative (Issue 52), which the board had certified to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

After hearing arguments from Dan McTigue, an outside counsel representing the city, and Jim Becker, an attorney and local resident representing petitioner Mike Schadek, the board voted on Sept. 12 to allow Issue 52 to remain on the ballot.

Hummer challenged the board's decision with the Ohio Supreme Court, which issued an Oct. 2 decision to remove Issue 52 from the ballot.

The city contested Issue 52 on three major points: the initiative did not propose a law and "would result only in a public preference poll of voters," the initiative didn't contain the required number of signatures of registered voters, and council's action authorizing city manager Virginia Barney to contract with Inland was administrative and not legislative in nature and therefore not subject to referendum.

Another referendum, however, faced voters on Nov. 4, when they approved Issue 51, upholding the city's decision to rezone from residential to commercial a .92-acre parcel at 3371 and 3381 Tremont Road for a proposed medical building.

Council voted May 11 to uphold the Board of Zoning a Planning's earlier decision to approve the rezoning. Following council's decision, citizens organized a petition drive to place a referendum on the ballot challenging council's decision.

Issue 51 opponents argued that the development would cause a decline in property values, increase traffic congestion and set a dangerous precedent, allowing commercial development to encroach in residential areas.

Proponents said the development will boost the city's tax base, bringing an estimated 36 new jobs with an average annual salary of $60,000, generating approximately $43,200 in income taxes and $34,768 annually in real estate for the city.

Another contentious issue that was finally resolved in 2008 was historic preservation.

After more than a year of debate and delays, city council unanimously approved revised historic preservation legislation on Dec. 8.

The legislation does not prohibit the demolition of homes in the south of Lane Avenue historic district, but implements a six-month delay when owners of contributing structures apply for demolition permits.

During the delay, applicants will be encouraged to meet with preservationists to learn about the historical significance of properties and allow them to be photographed for archival purposes. Applicants will also be required to notify neighbors within 300 feet of the property.

If applicants meet all guidelines, they can proceed with demolition after the six months has passed.

A 20-member task force made up of citizens representing all aspects of the issue drafted the legislation.

The city of Upper Arlington broke ground Oct. 6 on the new fire station at 3861 Reed Road. At an estimated cost of $6-million, the new building will be constructed with recycled building materials.

A new parking lot will be designed to blend in with adjacent Reed Road Park.

Construction is expected to take one year.

of Kingsdale redevelopment

After years of decline, a major step toward the revitalization of the Kingsdale Shopping Center and surrounding vicinity was taken in fall 2008.

Continental Real Estate Companies and development partner, Upper Arlington resident Mark Catalano, announced Oct. 3 plans to redevelop Kingsdale. The developers have entered into contract to purchase the center from current owner, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers.

Plans call for an expanded Giant Eagle supermarket, up to 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, a fitness center and Class A office/medical space.

The developers expect to close on the property during the first quarter of 2009 and begin construction immediately. The project is scheduled to open in early 2010.

Across the street, on Tremont Road, the first phase of the Arlington Crossing high-rise condominium development opened Oct. 2 with a VIP reception that attracted an estimated 250 people.

Arlington Crossing includes amenities such as underground parking, a fitness facility, movie screening room, "Skyview Lounges" on each floor for communal gatherings and patios at each unit with a view of the city.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com