SWAC denies rezoning request

In May, a heated debate took place at the Southwest Area Commission meeting when opponents and proponents gathered to discuss the proposed annexation of a large parcel of land in Jackson Township to the city of Columbus.

While Jackson Township does not fall within the commission’s boundary area, representatives for Jones Topsoil/Fuel Company wanted their approval in the annexation process of 76 acres of along the Scioto River and south of Interstate 270 in the northeastern part of Jackson Township to Columbus. They had wanted to build an area like Antrim Park, in the boundary, which could have taken up to 30 years to complete.

"There are a lot of supporters for this idea," said Dana "Buck" Rinehart, attorney and representative for the Jones Fuel Company at the May 21 meeting. "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."

Before leaving that meeting, they requested the approval of support from the commission, but the commission tabled the talks until July 16.

At this meeting, everyone with the exception of Chairman Ralph Horn voted against the annexation. Horn abstained from voting, stating he didn’t feel he knew enough about it yet.

The idea to build an Antrim-like Park in the Jackson Township area has been in the works for some time now.

In 2006, there was a proposal by the Shelly Company to extract gravel from the Jones parcel on State Route 104.

In 2007, Shelly Company and Jones Topsoil/Fuel Company filed the rezoning application for the excavation and quarry district for removal of sand and gravel, to which the Franklin County Zoning Commission approved.

Then their plans to more forward hit a roadblock when they brought the idea to Jackson Township.

"We just didn’t think it was the right land use for the area," said Jackson Township Administrator Mike Lilly.

He believes the quarry would increase traffic along local, residential roads and would cause environmental problems for the area as well.

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

After the appeal was denied, the companies went to Grove City Council to try for their approval, but they were turned down again.

"There were more questions to the request than they gave answers," said Grove City Development Director Chuck Boso.

Jackson Township Trustee William Lotz said the Shelly Company gave conflicting estimates on how many additional trucks would be in the area during the excavation process.

"We heard everything from 25 trucks per day, to 220 trucks per day."

James Chester, an attorney for Manheim’s Ohio Mobile Auction Services added the airborne dust generated from the site could affect the business of the Ohio Auto Auction, causing the business that generates $46 million per year for the area, and employs 400 people to cease operations.

"There is no doubt they have the means to move out if they feel an operation could negatively affect their company," Chester said.

He remarked that Shelly Company pulled out of the plan a few months ago, but commissioners were worried they could join the project again further down the road.

"Who is to say that the Jones Company couldn’t sell their land to Shelly in a few years?" said Commissioner Everett Kirk. "I believe they would come in and take it all over."

While the commission stated they have great things to say about the owners, and have no complaints against how they operate their company, they could not give their recommendation of approval due to multiple questions that surround the project.

"They said in the future, there would be a wonderful lake and it just might happen, but I don’t think the community want to put up with 30 years of excavation for a lake that might, or might not be there," said Lilly.

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