Worthington News

Apartment complex ridicule, controversy

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Although a controversial proposed apartment complex on West Dublin-Granville Road near Linworth was not on the Northwest Civic Association's recent agenda -- despite previously having been set for discussion at the meeting -- that didn't mean it didn't come up.

In an informal discussion following adjournment of the board's monthly session, most points of opposition emerged to the 325-unit development proposed for the south side of state Route 161, almost directly across the road from the Village Bookshop.

NWCA's initial meeting of 2013 was to have seen a vote on the request for what amounts to a down-zoning of the 20-acre parcel, but now that won't occur until the Feb. 6 session, at the earliest, NWCA officials said.

Nearby residents have been on hand at all three previous appearances by attorney Connie Klema, representing Upper Arlington-based Vision Development, to protest the possibility of a major apartment project adding to existing traffic woes in the area.

Klema first gave an informal presentation at the Sept. 5 Northwest Civic Association board meeting.

"It's a bottleneck," Brookside Estates Civic Association President Tom Francis said that evening.

"It's already almost unbearable for people in this area on peak times. That's what hits me right off when I hear something like this."

Klema returned Nov. 7, accompanied by a traffic consultant who told board members existing zoning for a shopping center, office complex and light industrial uses would add far more vehicles to the choked stretch of roads than the apartments.

Finally, on Dec. 5, the rezoning request was supposed to be up for a vote, but when it became clear the concept was going to be recommended for rejection, Klema consulted with her client by cellphone and asked that consideration be delayed.

She said she would return armed with a site plan that would show what the project would look like.

At last week's informal discussion, NWCA board chairman John Ehlers expressed some hope that the controversy over the proposed multi-family project might provide some impetus to bringing together the many different involved government jurisdictions in the area, including Columbus, Worthington and the state, to find a solution to traffic congestion on West Dublin-Granville Road.

"There is a crazy patchwork of jurisdiction on this," agreed architect Dave Brehm, a Brookside Woods resident and former 11-year member of the Columbus Development Commission.

Brehm called the notion of bringing that large an apartment project to an area already beset with major traffic congestion "patently absurd" and vowed residents of his subdivision will be out in force Feb. 6.

"We bring a lot of people into the room, a lot of passion about the quality of life in our area," Brehm said.

"We're not against density in the right location. This is not a 'no-build' mindset," he said.

"Urban density is fine in an urban setting, but this isn't an urban setting," fellow architect Gary Bruck said.

"The big thing is the traffic impact," stated NWCA board member Rosemarie Lisko, chairwoman of the group's graphics and zoning committee.

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