Following several weeks of public deliberation and participation by many interested residents, city council voted June 9 to rezone just over five acres of the Municipal Services Center (MSC) property to ORC, Office and Research District.
This action will allow the city to seriously consider its options for pursuing an office development on approximately 1.3 acres of the site to the north of the MSC.
The primary driver behind this action is the city's financial situation. With the loss of the estate tax and reductions in state funding, economic development efforts are becoming ever more important in an effort to fill the gap to help us maintain services.
We recognize that the limited availability of commercially zoned land likewise limits the impact our economic development efforts can make and that no one action or development will solve our dilemma. However, each successful project, no matter how small or large, contributes to the whole.
As this issue worked its way through the public processes to date -- which included hearings by both the Board of Zoning and Planning and Upper Arlington City Council, as well as an informal gathering with residents hosted by council President Don Leach and Vice President Debbie Johnson -- we listened to the concerns expressed by neighbors and others in the community.
As a result, a number of requirements were attached to the rezoning that reflected a good faith effort to be responsive to the input received as much as possible:
• A 20-foot no-build buffer must be established and maintained on the southern end of the MSC property.
• Certain ORC-permitted uses have been prohibited (hotels, barber shops, coffee shops, drive-through operations, residential, restaurants, shoe repair and satellite ground stations).
• An additional use amendment designates hospitals as a conditional use, requiring review and approval from BZAP.
• The city is to clarify the issue of roadway ownership on the northern end of the Trouville neighborhood.
• Any proposed redevelopment of the site must be structured as a land lease with the city retaining ownership of the property.
• Any development that might occur on the site located to the north of the MSC must not change the footprint of the MSC in any way.
• While not incorporated into the rezoning language, the city manager was directed to ensure that the city would undertake its best effort to preserve, relocate or replace any commemorative or other trees that would be impacted by such a development.
As we move forward, it's now time to consider two conceptual development proposals that have been submitted to the city for the site in question.
We intend to continue taking steps beyond our normal process to allow interested residents opportunity for additional input and involvement, with the goal of reaching an end result that upholds our already high standards for our built environment and is a fitting addition to the Kenny and Tremont "point."
To that effect, we have scheduled a town hall meeting from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 21, at the Upper Arlington High School auditorium, 1650 Ridgeview Road.
An independent, third-party meeting facilitator will be on hand to open the meeting, set the framework for the two developer presentations and to coordinate the question-and-answer session that follows. There will also be city staff in attendance, including myself, to answer any questions. Attendees will be able to submit comment cards with feedback relative to the proposed projects and the meeting.
A summary of the Town Hall meeting and subsequent resident input will be provided to the Community Improvement Corp. (CIC) in advance of its next meeting to review the two development proposals and ultimately select their preferred project. Thereafter, the CIC recommendation will be presented to city council for its consideration.
I encourage you to join us this coming Saturday morning.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.