Rezoning gets first approval

City leaders have given initial approval to rezone vacant land for industrial use in northwest Columbus, despite concerns two neighbors raised about the impact future development might have.

The Columbus City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 on to approve a request by Jim Puckett to rezone 18.54 acres on the west side of County Road 150W from single-family residential to light industrial. City Councilmen Frank Jerome and Laurie Booher voted against the proposal.

Two residents who live near the property, south of Paula Drive near the Tudor Addition subdivision, objected to the rezoning request.

Nancy Burchfield, who has lived on Paula Drive for nine years, said development of the land for industrial use would negatively affect home values in the area.

She also questioned whether a proposed berm would help block the view of any development on the land. Burchfield told council members that a separate berm designed to shield residents’ view of another industrial site in the area was later taken down after trees were removed.

A second resident, Tammy Foist, who lives in the same subdivision as Burchfield, said she was concerned about lighting, noise and possible pollution from potential development at the site.

“It’s just not a good fit with the area,” Foist said.

In a letter to the editor published last month in The Republic, Foist said Puckett’s request for industrial use in proximity to a residential area would lower property values and possibly affect the sale of homes within a new subdivision, Abbey Place, which is being developed.

Puckett, representing the Barbara Puckett Revocable Living Trust, attended the council meeting with his attorney Mike McIver, who said no firm development plans have been established for the site.

Permitted uses on the property would be limited to light industrial assembly and distribution or a research-and-development facility under commitments and conditions established by the city.

Although the proposal received a favorable recommendation from the Columbus Plan Commission last month, City Councilman Frank Miller proposed raising the height of the proposed berm on the north side of the property from four to eight feet.

Miller’s proposal was approved in a 5-2 vote, with Jerome and Booher opposed.

The increased berm will provide a buffer between homeowners and any development that goes in at the site, softening the effect on homes to the north, Miller said.

“That’s what I was after — protecting the property owners in the Tudor Addition,” Miller said after the meeting.

Jerome said he didn’t think changing the zoning designation of the property from residential to light industrial was appropriate.

He said he preferred to see the site used for housing to make it compatible with the surrounding area, which includes the development of the Abbey Place subdivision located to the west, which will eventually bring more than 300 homes to Columbus.

When the rezoning proposal was given support last month by the Columbus Plan Commission, commission member Zack Ellison said the requested rezoning would be consistent with other industrial designations in the area.

Under the plan for the property, County Road 150 West would be vacated along the frontage of the property with access being available from Omega Drive to the east, according to city planning documents.

“It seems to me there’s going to be industrial property there,” Ellison said during the October meeting.

What's next

Columbus City Council will take a final vote on the proposed rezoning 18.54 acres on the west side of County Road 150W from single-family residential to light industrial. That will come during the council’s 6 p.m. Nov. 21 meeting at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com