Neighbors question proposed bus station in CW

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Neighboring residents are questioning the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s plans to construct a new Park and Ride station, located between Gender Road and Winchester Pike in Canal Winchester.

Disgruntled Winchester Pike property owners packed Canal Winchester City Council chambers during a Dec. 1 public hearing on COTA’s request to rezone four parcels on 2.4 acres from low density residential to general commercial.

Mike Bradley, COTA’s vice president of planning and service development, said the transit authority started searching for property near Canal Winchester in 2012. It currently leases property for an express route Park and Ride established in 2010 in a Gender Road church parking lot.

“Transit has become important to the region,” said Bradley, who added COTA prefers to own property instead of leasing  to ensure continuity of service.

According to the Franklin County Auditor’s website, COTA obtained other properties on Gender Road and the Winchester Pike properties on Aug. 11 of this year, and although city staffers recommended approval of the authority’s request, the planning and zoning commission denied the application on Oct. 13.

Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire speculated the denial was influenced by prior community comments regarding the potential for increased traffic on Winchester Pike, diesel fumes from buses, proximity to residential housing and a change in character from residential to commercial development.

Winchester Pike property owner Tim Roberts lives next to the proposed Park and Ride facility.

“There’s going to be an increase in crime because of vacant cars,” alleged Roberts, who said his bedroom is in close proximity to where the parking lot would be located. “This is just a bad idea. These people should have talked to the community before buying the property.”

Resident Glenn Faught concurred.

“That is no place for a bus terminal right next to someone’s house,” Faught said. “I’m right next to that station. I gotta put up with that? No. I’m 100 percent against it. I don’t think anyone wants a bus sitting outside of their house, running, at 6:45 a.m.”

Real estate developer Herb Pfiefer believes the COTA concept is “ill conceived” and questioned why the authority would venture into a community and make a land deal with an “idea” for a park and ride.

“Who in Canal Winchester gave them the ‘go’ signal?” questioned Pfiefer.

While the majority of residents attending the meeting were against the rezoning and proposed station, three residents spoke in favor of the proposed Winchester Pike/Gender Road site.

Bus rider Bonita Rickerson makes the daily commute from Canal Winchester to Columbus and said the city is long overdue for a permanent Park and Ride facility.

She reported no known instances of vandalism at the current site, but events at the church and traffic on the road make it difficult for buses to turn around and for vehicles to leave the parking lot.

“It (the proposed Park and Ride) will look so much better than a used car lot,” said Rickerson.

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