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Council approves ordinance under special provisions

July 6, 2018

The Columbus City Council this week approved an ordinance enabling the rezoning of seven lots located in the Sunside housing subdivision from R-1 single family residential to R-2 urban family residential, allowing for multi-family townhomes to be erected.

The ordinance, which passed with a 6-1 vote with the lone no-vote coming from Ward 4 representative Prent Roth, had its three-reading rule suspended and moved to final vote under the condition the developer of the proposed properties, M & M Hanson Properties, has a clear-cut plan to deal with severe drainage issues already plaguing the area.

Ward 3 Councilmember Richard Jablonski was not in attendance and didn’t cast a vote.

Although the issue before the City Council regarded rezoning, several area residents spoke about how the city has stood by for years making promises about addressing drainage issues to no avail. Several Council members prior to voting said that while the drainage problems aren’t directly related to a vote involving rezoning, no building action should be taken unless the developer finds a viable solution to the problem at hand.

“It will be rezoned (with a passage of vote), but they won’t be able to go out there and build until the project is approved,” City Administrator Tara Vasicek said of the conditional parameter being added to the wording of the ordinance. “Until the draining on the project is approved.”

Prior to the ordinance being amended and passed, Columbus resident Mark Landholm, who has lived in the affected area with his wife, Dee, since 1978, voiced his concerns about moving forward with a project before dealing with what he views as the most pressing issue.

The current culvert and ditch drainage system are not getting the job done, he said.

“I’m not speaking so much against the R-1 or R-2, I think that he (developer) has a good plan, but I think we are missing out on an opportunity to correct what the city, City Council, engineers and streets have said they would do and didn’t follow on it the first time (there were ‘guarantees’ made),” Landholm said.

Mayor Jim Bulkley said though a permanent solution will take time, he and his staff will survey some of the discussed areas with poor draining in the upcoming days and weeks and see if there is some sort of temporary solution that could ease residents’ problems until a more set-in-stone one is reached.

Applicant Mark Hanson said he was OK with the ordinance being amended with the conditional language requirements because he wants the project done the right way and for area residents to no longer worry – at least as much – about water settling on their own and adjacent properties.

“Yes, I have an obligation to take care of the drainage, and I want to take care of the drainage and improve that plan before building,” Hanson said. “We do this on a daily basis with the city on new projects. I understand the concerns and with the condition, I am willing to work with that.”

Other council happenings:

*The Council unanimously passed a resolution amending the 33rd Avenue and U.S. Highway 30 redevelopment plan, allowing for more detailing of the first phase of the proposed project.

The redevelopment plan, approved during the Council’s April 2 meeting, calls for three distinct projects to be carried out by three separate developers which would bolster new business life on the west side of Columbus at the vacated Walmart site (Walmart closed doors on the 12.2–acre tract of land in 2005).

The first project, being redeveloped by Columbus Retail LLC, calls for the rehabilitation of approximately 55,000 square feet of indoor space within the old Walmart facility and an additional 35,000 square feet of outdoor display space, all of which would be occupied by Bomgaars Supply Inc. for retail use, staff report information states.

The second phase of the project would include the erection of a prototype, four-story corridor Hampton Inn hotel on approximately 2 acres of vacated Walmart parking lot space. Columbus Lodging LLC is serving as redeveloper on this phase of the project.

The third and final project highlighted in the first phase of the 33rd Avenue and U.S. Highway 30 calls for the construction of a four-story interior corridor apartment complex on approximately 2 acres of vacated Walmart parking lot space, with Quantum Columbus LLC, serving as project redeveloper.

All projects, staff report information shows, would benefit from tax increment financing (TIF) which is used to promote business growth in areas blighted and substandard.

Information provided through the City of Columbus shows the $2.35 million Bomgaars project is eligible for approximately $947,500 in TIF funds, the $8.59 million hotel project is eligible for $1.48 million in TIF funds and the $7.95 million apartment project is eligible for $1.32 million in TIF funds.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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