WAC revisits Blauser property rezoning

After having rejected a request for rezoning rural land in far western Franklin County, the Westland Area Commission reversed its vote and approved the issue last week.

The proposal to rezone some 200 acres now goes to the Columbus Development Commission, perhaps as early as its Jan. 10 meeting.

WAC voted 7-5 at a special meeting Dec. 11 in favor of rezoning the tract of land known as the Blauser property. It lies on the south side of West Broad Street between Alton and Galloway roads. This property has been mentioned as a possible site for a regional recreation center and the city of Columbus has acquired several acres on the tract.

The land would be rezoned for commercial prime development, single-family, multi-family, and smaller residences for older adults. As many as 74 acres would be green space and some acreage would be wooded area.

The big issue discussed at the meeting concerned runoff of rain water, much the same as was discussed when the issue was first brought before the commission in April when it was rejected by a 7-5 vote.

In the meantime, attorney Jeff Brown with Smith and Hale, the firm that represents the Blauser family, went to the Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel. After a lengthy discussion there, the advisory panel approved it on a split vote.

Brown had asked that he be allowed to return to WAC to discuss the latest developments, and expressed his regret for visiting WAC before going to the Big Darby group.

Development plans call for vegetated swales and rain gardens to help dispense extra water, and once again Brown spoke vaguely, saying there are no models in existence to show how those swales and rain gardens would eliminate excess water.

But when WAC member Jim Kennedy asked about snow melt creating an excess of water, Scott Sonnenberg, an environmental engineer who accompanied Brown, said the rain gardens would be designed to hold an inch of water and drain within 24 hours.

Lots on the property would be no smaller than 50 by 100 feet and the rain gardens would not be built on the lots.

It has been estimated that the population in that given area would be 600 people. Plans call for 232 single-family residences and 136 multi-family residences. Ranch-style houses would be approximately 1,400 square feet, and two-story homes 1,600 square feet. Smaller houses for older adults would be around 1,200 square feet.

No date has been set for any work since the Development Commission and City Council still have yet to give their approval for rezoning.

Support from the Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel and the Westland Area Commission could play a role in later decisions.

Both Brown and Sonnenberg said an opportunity for development exists for the city of Columbus and Prairie Township to come together in partnership to work on the storm water issue and the regional recreation center.

After the issues were discussed for well over an hour and members had an opportunity to get their questions answered, the vote reversed the earlier decision. Some new members have joined WAC since the first vote was taken.

WAC secretary Patricia Brown, who voted against the issue both times, said she is still not satisfied with some answers she received, but added she is glad it is moving on and added, “Perhaps we can get that recreation center.”

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