Someone who asks for a variance is not asking to break a law; they are asking for an exception in this particular case -- and they have to give good reasons for the exception.

To the Editor:

I feel the need to respond to the letter by Adam Frix published in the April 9 ThisWeek Booster regarding variances.

First of all, the building code is not voted on by the residents of a community. The residents of a community depend on people who have been trained to write a building code that will protect the community and its residents from unscrupulous builders and the residents themselves who might want to build structures that are not safe for anyone to inhabit. The building code has been put together over many decades of work. The code and any changes to it are approved by council, but it is never put to test in an election.

Similarly, the neighborhood plans that the city of Columbus has instituted are never put to test in an election. Residents are allowed a lot of input during the process, but it is council that OKs the final plan, not residents.

Secondly, wisdom dictates that a one-size-fits-all building code would not be a useful document. Lot sizes and neighborhood character often create problems for anyone who would want to build something. That is why the building code allows for variances.

Someone who asks for a variance is not asking to break a law; they are asking for an exception in this particular case -- and they have to give good reasons for the exception.

Variances are granted regularly and they are not always bad. In many cases, being asked for a variance allows the Clintonville Area Commission to have more input in and control of a project than we would normally have.

I will give two examples of projects that did not need variances: the new Raising Cane's restaurant near Graceland and the business building at California and High. CAC had absolutely no input in those projects and, in the case of Cane's, did not even know it was happening until construction began, because it required no variances.

I repeat: Variances are not always bad.

I am thankful that developers seem to be interested in projects here in Clintonville. Any new project here will be what is called an "infill" project, which can present challenges to builders and developers. If Clintonville wants to see new projects, its residents must know that variances will be needed -- and not all variances are bad.

Libby Wetherholt
District 3 representative
Clintonville Area Commission