The potential use of eminent domain continues to concern Powell residents and officials ahead of a vote on the framework for future downtown-area traffic improvements.

The potential use of eminent domain continues to concern Powell residents and officials ahead of a vote on the framework for future downtown-area traffic improvements.

Powell City Council last week conducted a first reading of legislation to approve a plan for the future of downtown streets. The plan lays out a number of suggested improvements, including new roadway extensions and connections aimed at getting people through downtown more quickly without cutting off access to downtown businesses.

One proposed connection -- an extension of Grace Drive south at its intersection with Olentangy Street -- has drawn poor reviews from neighbors.

The new roadway would run through property used by the Powell Liberty Historical Society as a parking lot for its headquarters, the Martin-Perry House. Society members have expressed displeasure at the plan, as have two homeowners who could lose some property to the roadway.

Brian Creek, who lives on Kellys Court, said the new roadway would "substantially degrade" the value of his house. He said he's also worried about the potential for distracted or impaired drivers entering his backyard if the new roadway is built.

"That's a major, major concern to me," he said, noting he and his children spend a lot of time in the property's backyard.

Creek said he does not support the roadway extension and asked council not to use eminent domain to seize a portion of his property for the project.

"To me, that's a pretty ugly thing to do," he said.

Justin Goodwin, a planner with architecture and design firm MKSK, said the proposed roadway is a key part of the plan to improve traffic at downtown's busy Four Corners intersection. He said motorists could use the new Martin-Perry Drive to access parking lots for South Liberty Street businesses if the city bans all left turns at the intersection of Olentangy and Liberty streets.

MKSK partnered with EMH&T, Trans Associates and city officials on the street and circulation plan. The plan identifies about $30 million in potential fixes, including about $9 million seen as necessary before the ban on left turns could be implemented at the Four Corners.

Janet Wartman, who lives and owns property on South Liberty Street, said she's worried the plan will lead to multiple uses of eminent domain against people who own land near the Four Corners.

"I don't see you using (eminent domain) once," she said. "I see you using it over and over again in this plan."

Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof said it's important to remember the plan is "conceptual" and called it "a work in progress." He said council also must take seriously the concerns of neighbors who might be affected by the construction of any new streets.

"I think we need to try to accommodate (the residents) as much as we can," he said.

Councilman Jim Hrivnak said many of the improvements suggested in the plan likely are "a long way off" and noted city officials have not yet decided on a funding mechanism.

"I don't know where we're going to find $8.8 million," he said.

Hrivnak said he looks at the plan as "the future vision for the city."

Council is expected to discuss and possibly vote on the transportation plan at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick