Columbus wants property rejected by JT

Jackson Township rejected it, as did Grove City Council, but Columbus wants the proposed quarry operation that could turn into a park, similar to Antrim Park.

Representatives for Jones Topsoil/Jones Fuel Company, as well as opponents, were on hand at the May 21 Southwest Area Commission meeting to discuss the proposal to annex property in Jackson Township into the city of Columbus.

"They are just here because they are looking for the support that they could not get in either Jackson Township or Grove City," said Jackson Township Administrator Mike Lilly.

In early 2007, Dick Jones asked for the rezoning of 76 acres of land along the Scioto River and South of Interstate 270 in the northeastern part of Jackson Township.

"The zoning commission denied it on many grounds," Lilly said. "One of the major concerns we had was the effect it would have on the ground water.

"Many residents rely on well water and there were no assurances presented to guarantee that the wells would not be negatively impacted."

Dave Jones denied that the ground water would have been affected because there is no pumping of the water on the site.

Now the Jones family plans to continue taking dirt out of the site. When that is finished, the final product will convert it into a lake. They would then turn it over to the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Department, who would have the option to turn the land into a public park and recreation area.

"There are a lot of supporters for this idea," said Dana Rinehart, attorney and representative for Jones Fuel Company. "We have the support of the mayor of Columbus, the director of the Columbus Department of Development, the Franklin County Planning Commission and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources."

"We have a lot of support, but yours is the most important," he added to the commission. "We want the people’s representatives to say ‘Let’s get this done.’"

Not supporting the annexation was James Chester, legal representative for Manheim’s Ohio Mobile Auction Services, located down the road from the quarry site on Jackson Pike.

"Manheim will oppose the annexation and rezoning until it has received assurances that many things should happen," he said. "There are no legal documents to delay our concerns about not only the water, but the dust it would distribute as well."

Chester said the airborne dust could get on the automobiles, causing it to affect the auction that generates $46 million per year.

"Jim Chester is on the wrong side of this," said Rinehart. "Water is not an issue – and dust? How many complaints did they (Jones Fuel Company) receive about dust? None. It’s not going to generate any complaints."

Dick Jones said all trucks are washed before they come out of the site by a wheel wash system, which cleans the wheels on the trucks.

"Any of the dust which is on the pike is not produced by us," he said.

If the annexation is approved, it could take up to 10 years for the city of Columbus to turn the land into a public park.

Land use plan

On April 14, approximately 40 residents and stakeholders were on hand at Franklin Woods Intermediate School for the first public workshop for the Southwest Area Plan.

An area plan addresses three things: land use and urban design policies and guidelines, development opportunities and transportation.

"We collected over 400 individual pieces of information and it was clear that there is a need for a community facility, such as a library, a recreation center or even a senior center," said Adrienne Joly, senior planner with the area planning commission.

Through an issues identification exercise, residents also expressed a strong desire for streetlights, additional sidewalks and the cleanup of areas or certain properties.

"When people are coming into the area, I don’t want them to think it is the dumping pit of the city," said area resident Don Parson.

According to the "favorite places" map, respondents enjoy the existing parks, such as Westgate and Willow Creek, and the community facilities in the area, while the Frank Road corridor is overwhelmingly the least favorite place.

It is also considered one of the most dangerous to walk and or ride a bike.

The next public workshop will be held on June 24, with the location to be determined.

"For the area plan, we need feedback on what people like, don’t like, what we need to improve and input on the pattern of development," Joly said.

A copy of the presentation is located at  www.td.ci.columbus.oh.us/Bizdevelopment/PlanList/index.asp.

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