Upper Arlington News

Guest column

Residents' trust at stake in city's rezoning effort

By

I am writing as a concerned resident of Upper Arlington, not as a property owner at Trouville.

My concerns focus on the proposed rezoning for commercial development of the public property at Tremont and Kenny roads and the divisiveness this project is generating in the community and on what appears to be the speciousness of this effort to correct our flagging revenues.

This initiative flies in the face of the community's master plan and affects the entire city.

Upper Arlington is the pre-eminent residential neighborhood in this region. That status comes from our convenient location, the elegant sweep of our residences and the positive feelings of the community-minded individuals who live here. Those enviable characteristics are foundational and difficult, if not impossible, to replicate. Only the most dire circumstances, it seems, should threaten that standing.

Have we reached such a financial abyss?

The case has not been made to the citizens of UA that this rezoning is necessary.

We have not heard that our finances demand such drastic action. We have not heard what the monetary expectations are for altering the vision articulated in the master plan. We have not heard that other revenue-building strategies have been considered and found wanting.

We have not heard that this rezoning is anything more than a one-shot, stopgap measure that will generate short-term revenue but not a long-term solution to the increasing demand for funds.

What we have now: the slick sound of developers whose promises of pots of money are as thin as the air on Mount Everest. What can we expect next -- Golden Arches on the Mallway?

All this uncertainty threatens to cause a deep rift within the community. What is at stake is the trust the residents have in their elected officials. And that comes at a time when we must all pull together to face the financial realities ahead of us.

We should be looking for ways to strengthen our bonds and work together to solve whatever problems confront us.

It seems to be a time to step back from this push to grab a quick buck at the cost of generating so much ill will. It's probably a great time to think of community-building strategies.

We could build a fountain on the point that would be a stellar landmark for this gateway to UA. We could have schoolchildren plant tulip bulbs on the site to bring them and their parents to the seat of local governance. We could have a Founders Day celebration and who knows what else there.

These steps would not generate income but might foster an atmosphere conducive to bringing in more revenue.

We are going to have to raise the local wage tax and probably should consider reducing some of the exemptions as well, so we have more of a positive community spirit than this development venture is generating.

The will of the people who elected Upper Arlington City Council members to office is something to be considered before marching in lockstep on this ruinous path.

William DiMascio is a retired nonprofit organization executive and former journalist.

Comments