Franklin Township trustee Don Cook doesn’t like to see houses turned into businesses.
He presented photos of such businesses along Harrisburg Pike to planners at the June 23 public workshop held by the Southwest Area Commission, in order to get community input on a plan for future development of the area.
“I’m not opposed to business, but you don’t put businesses in houses,” he said. “That’s why this road looks the way it does today.”
Harrisburg Pike, one of the area’s main arteries, has numerous small businesses lining both sides of the street, some of them in buildings formerly used as residences.
“It would be nice to add commercial businesses to the area, but you don’t turn houses into businesses,” he said.
Southwest Area Commission member Roy Bertossi somewhat agreed with Cook, but said some residential structures could attract businesses if they were professional businesses, such as accountants, and didn’t require so much parking.
Cook and Bertossi were among the estimated 50 people who came out to the second of three public meetings at the Finland Intermediate School.
Planners for the city of Columbus and Franklin County sorted through comments and suggestions made at the first meeting and presented plans of what several areas could look like with planned development.
Residents and employees of the area who were at this second meeting then offered their comments on the scenarios presented for the four areas: the former Franklin County Children’s Services area at Frank and Gantz roads, the intersection at Frank and Brown roads, land use along Harrisburg Pike and design concepts along Harrisburg Pike.
The area at Frank and Gantz was shown as a park with several options that included soccer and baseball fields, green space, community building and office space. Some of the comments on this area included the need for medical services, since none of the four scenarios addressed that concern. However the plan with commercial development seemed to draw the most attention, because planners said office space could produce much-needed revenue in the area.
Suggested improvements at the Frank and Brown roads intersection included sidewalks, landscaping, curb improvement and fencing along businesses.
While many of the people favored the improvements at the intersection, some noted that street lights need to be installed.
SWAC chair Ralph Horn said he was in favor of “taking it away and starting all over.”
His concerns for the area center on health, safety and transportation.
“There’s no place for kids to play or ride their bikes,” he said. “Bus transportation is next to nothing and there is no health care out here.”
The third area – proposed land use on Harrisburg Pike – was divided into four sections: south of Central Point, between Rosemont and Eakin roads, out of Midland, and between Frank Road and I-270.
Bertossi would like to see some planned development for the area.
“Take the area east of Frank and Gantz,” he said. “The housing is up against an area where semi trucks are stored. I’m not sure that’s compatible. Those trucks haven’t been moved for years.
“No one knows what they want and we’ve got haphazard development,” he said.
One thing people mentioned was that they don’t want any more auto-related businesses in the area.
Comments about the design concept along Harrisburg Pike centered on retaining a residential feel.
Franklin County planner Ben Weiner said comments from this second meeting would be taken back to the drawing board and be incorporated into a more specific draft that will be presented to the area Sept. 23.
The area under consideration is bounded on the north by Mound Street, Mt. Calvary Avenue to Renick Street, the city of Columbus line down to Greenlawn Avenue and Greenlawn Avenue to the Scioto River, on the east by the Scioto River, on the south by I-270 and on the west by the CSX Railroad tracks located just west of Harrisburg Pike (Route 62), southwest of downtown.
Residents, employees and property and business owners in that area who were unable to attend the session can view the plan by going to the SWAC Web site at www.columbusswac.org.
SWAC has thirteen members. The commission meets the third Wednesday evening of the month at the New Horizons United Methodist Church on Harrisburg Pike.
People who live, work or own property in the area are invited to participate and can vote in August when commission members will be elected. Anyone interested in being on the board can contact Horn through the Web site.