West Side News

Commission members discuss expanding WAC boundaries


The Westland Area Commission discussed the potential need for expanding its area because of new housing that has been built in the last decade in neighborhoods to the north of its existing boundaries.

WAC members decided at their June 19 meeting to seek legal counsel on whether it is possible to expand the commission's borders, mainly to the north in the Roberts Road area.

The current northern border is defined by the Conrail railroad tracks just north of West Broad Street. The Southern WAC border is defined by Big Run South Road; the eastern border is at Interstate 270 and the western border is Alton Road.

Commission member Dave Van Order said representatives from the city of Columbus told him the commission would have to seek 500 signatures on a petition, go through the process of dissolving the current commission and then create a new commission with the new boundaries.

"At least the city recognizes there is an area not represented," Van Order said. "That area is in the northwest quadrant of the city."

He said the WAC was prompted to look into the matter after fielding questions and concerns from residents in the Roberts Road area, a neighborhood that is not represented by a city commission.

The WAC -- like other area commissions in the city -- is an advisory body established to participate in planning and decision-making in tandem with Columbus City Council. It also was created to help facilitate communication among neighborhood groups, city officials and potential developers.

"We are suggesting expanding north to Roberts Road and keeping our same east, west and south boundaries," Van Order said.

Commission member Mike McKay said the Roberts Road area alone might warrant its own commission.

"That is a huge area," he said. "By area, that is how big we are now."

McKay said changing the northern boundary would be a huge undertaking and is something that shouldn't be considered lightly.

Among other things, he said, WAC members would have to seek signatures and take the time to invest in the creation of new bylaws.

"You will have to think about all the hard work that will go into it," McKay said.

Commission member Bill Steimer suggested opening up the next meeting for discussion with residents who are seeking some sort of representation.

"Maybe we need to talk to these people in those communities and maybe see if they want to get involved," Steimer said.

Van Order agreed and said he didn't want to start the ball rolling if there is no interest from the community.

"Let's just kick the idea around, see how we want to proceed and see if they do want a voice," Steimer said.

WAC members agreed to talk with the Columbus City Attorney's Office and will make an effort to reach out to residents in the Roberts Road area before the next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 17 at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital, 5100 W. Broad St.