County commissioners OK SWAC land plan
Eight government entities had already voted in favor of the Southwest Area Plan, but the final say on its adoption lay in the hands of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.
At their meeting on April 14, commissioners gave their approval.
"I am very pleased that the area plan was adopted by the county commissioners," said Southwest Area Commission chairman Ralph Horn at the April 15 SWAC meeting.
The plan was drawn up by the City of Columbus Development Department and the Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Department based on the recommendations given by citizens during community meetings.
The recommendations stemmed from how residents envision the Southwest area in the future, but recently there has been some controversy regarding the land use map.
When the plan came before the Columbus City Council last month, several SWAC commissioners and residents noticed the new land use map showed changes from commercial development along Gantz Road to Hardy Parkway to light industrial development, and called for light industrial developments along Frank Road, which residents were strongly against. Instead, residents were in favor of small restaurants or retail shops in those designated areas.
The commission sent a letter to the development department asking for clarification, and in response, Kevin Wheeler, the assistant planning administrator for the development department said, "While plan provisions addressing the area ... call for maintaining existing industrial land uses on the south side of Frank, east of Gantz Road, the plan does allow for the scenario of unified retail development."
Wheeler went on to state that "research indicated that there are 75 businesses with over 1,200 jobs in this area (the south side of Frank between Gantz and Brown Roads) ... Columbus relies on income tax as its primary revenue source. Generally speaking, retail uses do not generate the same level of revenue as manufacturing uses. In short, we continue to consider the current map designation to be appropriate."
A change to the current land use map would require a plan amendment, which commission members were against while resident Don Parsons favored.
"We don't want anymore industrial stuff brought onto Frank Road," he said. "We want it to be and look like a healthy corridor. We don't want to be known as the trash pit of the city."
At the May 20 Southwest Area Commission meeting, representatives with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to visit and hold discussions with residents on how the agency works, and to hear any environmental concerns they may have as it pertains to the surrounding area.
"They have expressed an interest in getting to know the community better and the area's environmental issues," Horn said.
He encouraged all residents to come, but said he wants the meeting to run in a timely fashion and in a proper manner.
"I know the topic of the environment in the area can create a lot of passion," he said.
The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held at the New Horizons United Methodist Church, located at 1665 Harrisburg Pike, Columbus.
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