Westside may get two new cruisers

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The Westland Area Commission has given its approval for the city of Columbus to rezone land on the edge of Georgesville Square Shopping Center so a three-bay automatic car wash can be built.

The request, which had won approval from the Commission’s Zoning Committee, now goes to the Development Commission of the City of Columbus which will study it before sending it to City Council.

If the request wins approval from the city, construction could start soon thereafter on the building on 1.1 acres of land at 1654 Holt Road. The land is currently zoned LC-4, Limited Commercial. The request was to zone it to CPD, Commercial Planned District.

Attorney Chris Rinehart assured the Commission that the plans for the new business had met all requirements of city regulations, including some sought by the Commission’s Zoning Commission. That included a limit on the height of outdoor lights, enclosing the Dumpster on three sides with an operational gate on the fourth side, and a building design that would compliment surrounding structures.

One question a couple of commission members asked concerned the disposal of water from the car wash operations.

Al DeLoye, vice president of marketing for Harrell’s Car Wash Systems and a co-owner of the proposed business, explained that water outside the bays would drain into storm sewers, while water from inside the bays would be filtered and drain into the sanitary sewer system.

He said that the wash water from the bay would go into a pit, and any automotive fluids leaking from the vehicles would go into an oil receptor. The water then would go into the sanitary sewer, and the contents in the oil receptor would be collected and properly disposed of on a regular schedule.

“The oil receptor acts like a grease trap in a restaurant,” he explained.

The building would be heated to prevent ice buildup in the winter, DeLoye said.

Work could begin soon after the rezoning request is approved. Construction would take between 120 and 150 days, DeLoye said, meaning the business could be open by the end of the year.

Also speaking to the group was Columbus Police Sgt. Joe Holton of Precinct 10 to talk about crime rates in the area.

When he spoke to the group in May, he said the two cruiser districts on the far Westside had the most calls, and was short staffed. On this visit, he said it looked like the area could get two more cruisers,

He displayed a bar graph that showed the Westside had the highest number of calls on the third shift for the first six months of this year.

“We had more than 18,000 calls,” he said.

He said that after presenting the situation to his superior officer that it looks like he will get two more cruisers, doubling the number that works this area.

“He (his superior officer) said I had a compelling argument,” Holton said. “It’s up to Chief (James) Jackson now.”

The added cruisers would improve the response time as well as allow officers to be more proactive in fighting crime, he said.

All the figures Holton gave, as well as a summary of the arrests in recent weeks, were from the third shift, which prompted commission members to ask why he only presented figures on one shift and what was happening on the other shifts.

“I haven’t added the figures from the other shifts,” admitted Holton, who works the third shift.

Both he and Sgt. David Eing, a regular attendee at these meetings, said most of the crimes occur between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

“As much as 70 percent of the calls,” Eing said.

One item that has been of assistance to the officers in reaching crime scenes and being able to make apprehensions is the presence of cell phones.

“The cell phone help policed in crime investigations,” Holton said. “Callers don’t have to go look for a pay phone any more. They just flip open a cell phone and call us.”

Holton also said that gang activity has been on the rise, especially this summer, and in the Lincoln Village area. The Lincoln Village area is in Prairie Township and is under the jurisdiction of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

He said he has seen an increase in strong-armed robberies, theft, carjackings and burglaries and specifically mentioned the Latino gangs in apartment complexes in Lincoln Village.

“We’re working closely with the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “More closely than we ever have before.”

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