Taylor Park Drive closure irks Reynoldsburg officials

Reynoldsburg city officials are displeased with the amount of time a portion of a road that services several businesses has been closed, saying businesses and residents have been unfairly affected.

Taylor Park Drive, located along State Route 256 and Taylor Drive, has been closed nearly 12 weeks.  The project to replace utility lines that run beneath the area was supposed to take only two weeks, city officials say.

"It’s a comedy of errors that a simple two-week project can go 11 weeks," Reynoldsburg City Council president William L. Hills said at the Oct. 13 council meeting.

Though customers can access the businesses in the area, the construction around Taylor Park Drive has driven away customers who don’t want to deal with finding an alternative route, city officials say.

One store has reported to the city that business is down 50 percent and isn’t sure whether the business will fully recover, Mayor Brad McCloud said.

In response, the city is filing a letter with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates public utilities, in hopes of drawing attention to the inconveniences residents and business owners in the area have experienced.

"This is not a city project," McCloud said. "We don’t really have control over it. But what we do have is businesses who are suffering."

Reynoldsburg City Engineer Jim Miller told council members at the meeting the project is slated to be completed by Oct. 31, with Taylor Park Drive reopened by Nov. 3.

Utility crews will work six days a week, Miller said. "The only thing that can slow them down is rain," Miller said.

The problem first began when Columbia Gas first inspected beneath the ground and realized there were more facilities in there than first realized and some lines were not able to be identified, McCloud said.

At another point, an AT&T representative was unable to recognize one of the company’s own lines as well, McCloud said.

"Almost anything that could go wrong, did," he said.

In other news
• At a public hearing held before the regular council meeting, council members questioned whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the statutory authority to implement standards in the city of Reynoldsburg.

The questions stem from new standards  being put in place by the EPA and adopted by municipalities across the state.

These standards regulate the process by which certain types of pollutants are controlled.

The Stream Corridor Protection Zone ordinance, which went through a first reading at the Sept. 22 council meeting, is part of a national pollutant discharge elimination system set forth by the EPA.

The ordinance, which only affects new buildings and areas that are plotted as new development, prohibits construction or alteration of natural or man-made open channels.

The goal of the standards is to keep the zone in as natural a state as possible to perform erosion protection, flood storage and water quality protection.

The ordinance prohibits new development within a minimum of 25 feet back from each side of the stream bank, though depending on the type of development and stream corridor, it could be a maximum of 250 feet.

For current property owners, if an area along the stream currently is not maintained, once the ordinance takes effect, the property owner cannot begin maintaining the area and must leave it alone.

Council member Mel Clemens expressed several concerns about the ordinance. He said he knows of several property owners who only have a 4-foot wide creek and would be restricted, under the proposed ordinance, from maintaining 25 feet on each side.

Building a bridge under these guidelines would present a hardship on the property owner, Clemens said.

"You’re keeping the home owner from getting across to the other side of the property," he said.

Council president William L. Hills also questioned whether the EPA has the authority to implement such standards.

Aaron Domini, planning and zoning administrator for the city of Reynoldsburg, said he will check on the EPA’s authority, as well as answer some of the other council members’ questions, prior to the Nov. 6 planning commission meeting.

• City Auditor Richard Harris praised the city’s employees after the city received the "Making Your Tax Dollars Count" award for the 2007 fiscal year.

The city earned the award the previous two years as well. The award recognizes fewer than 5 percent of agencies in Ohio as being excellent in public financial reporting, Harris said.

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