The fate of Hartman Farms

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The former schoolhouse on the Hartman Farms site.

Hartman Farms, once a state-of-the-art agricultural masterpiece on Columbus’ southside at the turn of the 20th century, is up for rezoning after more than a century as farmland.

Nearly 500 acres once covered in crops and neat rows of grape arbors could become home to manufacturing or industrial purposes following a rezoning application filed by PFK Company with the city on Aug. 25.

“I own a house in the neighborhood that is adjacent to the Hartman Farm Historical District and one reason I purchased it is because of the historical value of the land next to mine,” said Korey Whitmore. “Myself and another neighbor just happened to do some research because of the drilling rigs we’ve been seeing on the property and found the application for rezoning.”

Whitmore said he was first made aware of the potential rezoning of Hartman Farms on Sept. 14.

“A post was made on our neighborhood NextDoor page asking if anyone knew why there was so much activity on the Hartman Farmland recently,” said Whitmore. “Being curious, I went to the city of Columbus website and searched for any building permits or rezoning applications for the land. That’s when I discovered the application to rezone the property to industrial/manufacturing.”

Whitmore’s property shares a boundary with the farm, where the rear of his home looks out over a soybean field and onto High Street. One reason he said he purchased the home was because of information he was given about the Hartman Farm, its historical significance and the geological uniqueness of the land.

“My first concern was the destruction of the land,” Whitmore said. “From the application, it sounded like they were going to backfill the kettle pond and level the glacial kame on the property. This development would effectively destroy the last physical remnants of the Hartman Stock Farm. The layout of the land would make for a beautiful park, with the rolling kames, kettle pond and clusters of mature tree growth. Obviously, I know the developer would rather make money on their land, but with it being close to 500 acres in the single parcel, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see park land on the north end of the property and commercial business on the south end closer to Scioto Downs.”

Attorney Jeff Brown is representing the applicant.

When asked about the project, Brown said, “The rezoning application for this property has been submitted and we look forward to our presentation at the (South Columbus) Area Commission (zoning committee meeting) on Oct 15.

The committee meeting is at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at 3639 Parsons Avenue.

The former 26-building, 5,000-acre Hartman Farm property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 9, 1974 for its significance in the field of agriculture and its historic functions in processing, agricultural outbuildings, animal facilities and institutional housing.

Founded in 1903 by Dr. Samuel Hartman, the farm was once hailed as “the largest intensely cultivated, diversified farm in the world.”

According to the National Register application, the farm frontage along U.S. Route 23 was approximately four miles in length and the west side was frontage all along the Scioto River.

At one time, the property’s inventory included a manager’s house—an original structure still on site—employee row houses built in 1905, a school, an electric power plant, canning factory and cider press, stock and horse barns and foreman’s house.

“The farm was famous not only for its size, but for its livestock and crops as well,” continued the 1974 application. “Hartman bred three champion strains of horses…had the world’s largest herd of Jersey cattle, which easily supplied milk for the entire city of Columbus. Ducks, chickens and other poultry were raised in abundance. Hartman was always careful to select the best registered breeds of any animal he raised…In its centralized management and huge acreage, the Hartman Farm was an early version of the massive farming conglomerates so common today.”

In comparison to acreage at the height of the farm operation, the property of today is approximately one-10th the size but is still partially covered in cropland.

According to a preliminary site plan, there are four proposed access points to the property—one connecting to Rathmell Road, another off of South High Street, the third connecting to Nells Way in a housing subdivision and the fourth off of Parsons Avenue.

The site borders the Scioto Downs Racino to the south.

Whitmore expressed concerns about the impact rezoning the acreage to manufacturing/industrial could have on traffic. He and fellow resident Spencer Williams created the website.

“The infrastructure in the area is already outdated,” alleged Whitmore. “…many accidents already occur at the intersection of Rathmell and High Street and how backed up traffic already gets when turning east onto Rathmell coming South, adding an industrial or manufacturing complex is a recipe for disaster.”

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  1. Diaster is right. In todays world History means nothing. America has to give up its pride to have any and all foreigners to move here and destroy our land. Take our jobs and bring diseases . This world is a mess.

  2. I oppose the rezoning of this property.  I grew up in the south end of Columbus and I am a 20 plus year resident of Hamilton Meadows.  Four of my grandchildren live in the area and go to school at Hamilton Township.  There are several newer housing developments around the area including Butler Farms.  I remember the beautiful rows of grape arbors and the contours of the land.  Preserve what we have and make it useful to the residents of the area who have to travel to German Village and other more distant areas such as Westerville for a beautiful park.  Thank you.  

  3. i used to walk from german village with my best buddy bill reiger and we would hunt on the hartman farms. good times

  4. jennifer, it is about a national historic area not to mention the trash from industry the noise and the traffic, try going north on high street from rathmell rd. 2 to 5 minute wait at any given time. I am a resident here and there are herons and egrets nesting at the north end of hartman lake.There are brown mink residing in the area behind my house. Any intelligent person would not want industrial zoning here if you live here in hartman pond. The property tax will increase 30%. We are already over 100 thousand dollars invested in our home, and just look at urbancrest in grove city. before they built manufacturing facilities there, it was a sprawling neighborhood, now it is a crime, drug infested slum. hmmmm, i hope you live in this area when they build these sites and a motel like the one in grove city by 270 you will have prostitutes and drugs there also. So just hope and pray it does not happen because you will regret not making the decision to help fight these corporate people. And there is a hint of truth to what Ms. Stambaugh is saying. We are facing a pandemic where supposedly over 100,000 people have died, the media hypes everything, so are we to believe that the pandemic is over and build buildings where it brings the possibility of the corona virus closer to home? By bringing more people to the area to erect buildings then more people to fill jobs there. It would seem to me that we want to practice corporate distancing in the face of the present pandemic situation, and question the right people of how we are to believe that the pandemic is real, when corporate america is building commercial buildings to open up jobs and destroy historic land. To me it looks like some rich people want to destroy more of the good fabric of America to line their pockets with money. And it is all in the name of profit.

  5. The City of Columbus is close to approving a massive rezoning and land transformation without knowing who is building what??!!

    The “Mad March” forward to turn historic and scenic Hartman Farms into an industrial Data Center mega-mess is continuing at a rapid pace! The owners of the 500 acre property at 5076 S. High Street are requesting that the land be rezoned to a Limited Manufacturing District. Nearby residents of the Hamilton Local School district seemed strongly against this rezoning; however on March 4th the school Board approved a resolution to receive annual compensation from the Data Centers, essentially agreeing to allow massive eyesores to be built next door. Land owners, PFK Company II, LLC, along with Megellan Enterprises, LLC (a shell company with an Ohio Secretary of State filing date of February 18, 2021), also have an ordinance set for a second reading in front of City Council requesting a 15 year 100% tax abatement for a $300 million dollar Data Center(s) and 20 jobs. The documents filed with these ordinances offer an unbelievable lack of details. There are no drawings or plans that show the proposed Data Center(s)! Can the City of Columbus approve such a massive rezoning and land transformation without knowing who is building what??!! We may soon find out. Or will concerned citizens and taxpayers demand that the City slow the approval process in order to better evaluate what is at stake?

    On the Columbus Zoning Committee Agenda for Monday March 22, 2021!
    Ordinance 0448-2021 (previously Rezoning #Z20-070) LINK:

    On the Columbus City Council Agenda for Monday March 22, 2021!
    Ordinance 0520-2021, LINK:

    Spangler Hill Scenic HD Video :


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