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FT approves plan, more meetings ahead
Trustees in Franklin Township adopted the Southwest Area Land Use Plan at their Dec. 23 meeting. Trustees are hopeful that this plan will put the township, city and county officials on the same page with the desires of township residents for future development projects.
“It will be a good thing if everybody follows the rules and doesn’t try to look for loopholes or do what they want to do personally. The residents have spoken and said this is what we want for the township, so as long as the zoning department follows that, I think it’ll work out,” said Trustee Don Cook.
Benjamin Weiner, a representative from the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department, and Adrienne Joly, long-range planning manager from the city of Columbus, emphasized that the plan gives a general guideline but neither the township, nor the zoning boards are legally bound by the procedures.
“The plan does an excellent job of laying out general principles that explain the general direction of the plan, so if a development proposition is presented with details that aren’t specifically addressed, the plan’s general goals and direction will give appointed boards and elected officials the right direction,” said Weiner.
Trustee Chairman Tim Guyton was enthusiastic about the land use plan.
“This tool did not exist in the past, thus the hodge-podge of development in the area; sidewalks in some areas while no sidewalks in others, street lights in some areas with no street lights in others, no consistent setbacks on buildings, no control over business types in certain areas, etc.,” said Guyton.
Cook said he hopes the Bureau of Zoning Appeals follows the plan more stringently than in the past.
Joly said the land use plan is the first step in remedying these kinds of situations.
“It reflects the community’s vision. It’s well-vetted, there’s a lot of input, there’s a lot of analysis,” said Joly. “Once each jurisdiction adopts it, it’s essentially adopting the vision of what the community wants for the areas. So that goes a long way in offering some kind of authority behind it. It’s not one person writing letter to city or mayor, it’s the collective will of this area.”
Cook also was uneasy with the rezoning notification process, which he said some residents are only receiving seven days before the hearing to offer their opposition. Cook said that is not enough time.
Weiner said according to the Ohio Revised Code, they have to give ten days notice and their office has been giving 14 days notice of the hearings, but the hearings are posted on the Franklin County Rural Zoning Commission’s Web site four weeks prior to the hearing, which are held at the Franklin County courthouse.
“The way a hearing works, there’s a monthly regular meeting of Franklin County Zoning Commission, held at the same time every single month and notification is sent to surrounding residents before that hearing,” said Weiner.
Now that the plan has been adopted in Franklin Township, Weiner said the go-ahead is on hold until other entities adopt the land use plan.
The next meeting reading the plan is scheduled to take place on Jan. 14 at the Franklin County Planning Commission, followed by another on Jan. 22 at the Franklin County Rural Zoning Commission. There will be a second meeting concerning the plan on Jan. 22 at the Columbus Development Commission.
The final steps will take place when the Columbus City Council holds two hearings on the plan in February and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approve the plan on Feb. 10.
Weiner said if people are interested in more information or if they want to get e-mailed notification of rezoning in their areas, visit www.franklincountyohio.gov/edp and click on planning.
In other news
In other board news, Jim Stevens, road maintenance and building supervisor reported that a subcontractor for the city of Columbus accidentally dug up a five-foot section of the township’s drain line when they were redoing water lines for the city in the area around Britton and North Hague avenues. Two township residents reported water backup into their yards and basements as a result of the mistake.
Stevens said the road crew hand-dug two ends of the pipe to relieve pressure and the contractor had repaired the damage since then.
Stevens did not know the extent of the damage for the residents in question but Guyton believes the city is responsible for any incurring damages.
“As a matter of fact, I told Jim if any of the residents ask about damage, we’ll need to put them in touch with the city guy,” said Guyton.
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