By Katelyn Sattler
During the October meeting of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, Jim Fogler, manager of Wedgewood Village Apartments, gave a presentation about planned safety upgrades to the complex. Some zoning variances to the complex had been tabled at a previous meeting because the commissioners were concerned about the safety of the apartment complex residents.
The variance requests were to split the two parcels that are north of Eakin Road. A variance request was also submitted to allow the parking lots to remain on those northern parcels, as well as to approve keeping those parking spaces on the south in place.
The attorney representing Wedgewood Village Apartments, Adam Saad, told the commission that interest rates are low and tax code changes are favorable to be able to do substantial renovations on the complex.
“So the stars have aligned, so to speak, and we are able to do a pretty substantial renovation of the apartment,” said Saad. “But, ultimately, what it means is that there will be money for better lighting, better security, better security cameras, and better ingress and egress systems that are much needed there.”
Because Wedgewood Village Apartments are for low-income residents, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will do a thorough inspection once renovations are complete.
Fogler said they are looking to spend approximately $2 million on upgrades to the complex. They will be removing all galvanized plumbing, removing asbestos, and replacing the windows. They are hoping to get started on the renovations next year.
Commissioner Josh Maddox questioned some of the ongoing safety issues in and surrounding Wedgewood Village Apartments. He said that Emergency Medical Services won’t attend to a situation there without a police officer from Columbus. Sgt. Fredrick Brophy said that firefighters were assaulted and shot at, which is the reason they request police backup when entering Wedgewood.
Maddox also wanted to know how much Wedgewood was willing to spend on safety to be proactive concerning crime.
“Security cameras are great, but they only show what did happen. How do we get more proactive with that?” asked Maddox.
Commissioner Zerqa Abid said she understood where Maddox was coming from, but said management cannot always control safety issues. She said the abandoned school building (off Doulton Court across from Eakin Elementary, known as “Old Wedgewood Elementary”) is a serious issue that they cannot control because it is out of their reach. She would like to see Columbus City Schools do something about the vacant school.
When questioned, Fogler said they check criminal records before they rent to someone. There was a time last year when eviction courts were closed, but since then, they evict tenants for criminal behavior.
The commission approved the variance requests unanimously.