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City Council okays Cooper Park rezoning
On June 27 Columbus City Council unanimously voted to rezone the Cooper Stadium site from rural to commercial planned development.
City Council made their decision after holding a public hearing June 21.
During the hearing, City Council heard from applicant, King Holdings on behalf of Arshot Entertainment, as well as community residents.
“This has been one of the most carefully researched and considered decisions this City Council has ever made,” Councilman A. Troy Miller said. “We have received hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls, held public hearings, and realize that this is still an issue that divides many in the community.”
Matthew Egner, the vice-chair of the Franklinton Area Commission and a Trustee of the Franklinton board of Trade, was among residents opposed to development of a race track at the Cooper Stadium site.
“Our community is concerned about the noise,” Egner said. “Our community is concerned that the noise will prevent further investment and development. Our community is concerned that this race track is inconsistent and incompatible with this dense urban environment. I don’t support this proposal.”
Other Franklinton residents, like Shawn Moser, are for the proposed race track.
“The proposed Cooper Park complex would create new jobs and be a catalyst for further commercial development,” Moser said.
In reference to residents’ largest concerns, noise produced at the facility, Moser said he felt Arshot was adequately addressing noise, as well as other concerns of community members.
Arshot created the “Good Neighbor Agreement” with the Southwest Civic Association, which addresses many concerns that have been raised by citizens.
According to the agreement, Arshot would provide first consideration to residents of Franklinton and the Southwest area for the approximately three hundred jobs that they say will be created with the development of the complex.
They stated they would surround the track by 35 foot sound barrier walls, which will cost up to $5 million.
The plans for the space include more than race events.
“The vast majority of functions at this facility will not be related to racing at all,” said George McCue, an attorney who spoke on behalf of Arshot. “There will be less than one percent of the total time available of operation of this facility that will be used for competitive racing.”
“Even if it was one, or less than two percent, that means that we’re talking about 90, to maybe 110 hours of motorcar racing throughout the year,” Miller said.
Arshot, who expects to invest $30 to $40 million on the project plans to center Cooper Park around the Center for Automotive Research and Technology.
The facility would be used to test new automotive technology, including new hybrid and electric systems, as well as to train mechanics, and other auto workers.
“In short, it will allow Columbus to be at the forefront of re-inventing the auto industry,” McCue said.
Arshot would also plan to host other events such as concerts, auto shows, sports, rodeos and community festivals.
There are also plans for restaurants, a hotel, and conference center.
Some of the former ballpark’s history will be preserved throughout a significant part of the stadium. Arshot wants to maintain approximately 8,500 of the original seats, including the grand stand seats and the Captain’s Quarters.
Miller cited that the development and increased jobs would generate increased tax revenue for the city.
“Right now, Cooper Stadium is existing with nothing happening there,” Miller said. “If it continues to just sit there and collect weeks, it’s not bringing anything to the community.”
The next step requires the applicant to apply for a special permit from the Columbus Board of Zoning Adjustment, which would allow Arshot to hold events. Arshot would not begin development until the special permit is granted.
Justin Boggs, Hilltop resident and member of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, sees the possible development as a positive for the neighborhood.
“It’s going to give people something to do,” Boggs said. “For many people in the Hilltop, it’s within walking distance. I went to so many Clipper games growing up, because it was right down the street.”
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