COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The Columbus City Council Zoning Committee passed the residential proposal with a unanimous vote during a council meeting Monday night.
A dramatic increase in traffic is among the concerns as a developer seeks to use the main park road as the access point for the over 750-unit Whittier Peninsula apartment project.
Tim Moloney is the Executive Director for Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. Moloney says each year, Scioto Audubon sees around 225,000 car visits.
Zimmer Development is set to go before the Columbus City Council Zoning Committee to rezone about 16.5 acres located on the north side of West Whittier Street and west of South Front Street. Moloney is concerned with new neighbors their park isn’t ready for the amount of traffic. “15 hundred new neighbors to this park. That they’re going to need restroom facilities, they’re going to need trash cans emptied. Those are all burdens that we at Metro Parks are going to have to work through them if council passes this ordinance,” Maloney tells us.
The development seeks an easement through the adjacent Metro Parks property of Maier Place. The proposal is shared use between the park and the developer. Landon Zimmer with the development company says, “We’ve hired traffic experts the city has traffic experts and both say that our plan you know passes with flying colors.”
Metro Parks says, if used as an access point, the annual traffic flow through the Scioto Audubon Metro Park is expected to increase by 1.5 million vehicles.
During the Columbus City Council meeting, the topic of a significant rise in traffic was discussed at length. The 1.5 million number is in regards to vehicle trips in and out of the development, not 1.5 million new vehicles, according to zoning committee staff.
Rob Dorans with Columbus City Council says there is a lot of good that can come to Central Ohio if the plan is approved. “When you talk about that brownfield right outside downtown, getting something like that remediated to where it’s better used, taking toxic ground and turning it into a place where people can live, it’s positive. There has been a commitment to affordable housing in this project and it’s affordable housing that hasn’t required any public subsidy,” Dorans says.
Landon Zimmer adds, “it’s a contaminated 20-acre partial that we’re going to be remediating. We’re going to be you know, braving 10 acres of useful space that’s not open to the public now, we”ll be opening that to the public.”
The Development Commission, the Brewer District Commission, and the city departments all recommended approval for the rezoning.
Zimmer went before the Metro Parks board in May where board members raised concerns about increased traffic. The board took no action in May but asked the developer to reach out to the city about a secondary bridge over the railroad tracks to the Brewery District.
The zoning commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 11, 2022.