Columbus Council, Metro Parks at Odds Over 800-Apartment Development

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A nearly 800-unit apartment complex right next to Scioto Audubon Metro Park is one step closer to being a reality.

Columbus City Council unanimously approved the zoning change needed to move the project forward, and while council and the developer said the project is a great idea, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks doesn’t think so.

The land at the center of quite a bit of discussion at Monday’s zoning meeting can’t currently be used for anything.

The project’s developer, Zimmer Development Company, said the project will bring a lot of good to the community, but Metro Parks is concerned about how it’ll affect the park.

The landscape at a property next to Scioto Audubon Metro Park could be changing. Monday night, City Council approved a zoning change allowing for a 780-unit apartment complex to be built on the site.

“It’s not what we were looking for as Metro Parks, but you did hear council, they want to see both groups continue to work on this,” said Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks Executive Director Tim Moloney.

Moloney said his biggest concern is the traffic the development would create, saying 1.5 million trips a year would be made on the road park goers use.

“Getting that many people onto a single road is always going to be a challenge,” he said. “But we’re willing to work with everybody just like we do every day and what we’ve done for 78 years. We’re here to protect the parks and it’s my job to speak for them.”

Columbus City Councilmember Rob Dorans said talks have been going on for six months without a traffic solution that Metro Parks was happy with. With the project moving forward, both Metro Parks and Zimmer said they’ll keep working on that.

“I can see their concern,” said Zimmer Development Company Managing Partner Landon Zimmer. “That’s why the City of Columbus makes you have traffic studies. We’ve hired objective experts, the city has experts, and they all agree that our proposal passes with flying colors.”

The site is currently contaminated. Between remediation and building more housing including 10 percent of it considered affordable, council members said the development brings too much to the table not to give it the green light.

“This is not a choice between adding housing and preserving green space,” Dorans, who chairs the council’s zoning committee, said. “We can do both and the expectation from me and this council is that that happens.”

Since there are still several steps the developer needs to take with the city before construction can start, no date to begin building the project has been announced.