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Editorial: Rejection of recycling center shows system works

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Whether you were happy or upset with the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals’ rejection of a proposed recycling center on the former Golden Castings property likely depends on your support or opposition to the project. But what there shouldn’t be any complaint about is the process that led to the decision. It was an example of how government should work.

The owner of the property at 1616 10th St. had an idea for making better use of the former foundry site, which was a nuisance for nearby residents during its existence and has been an eyesore since its closing in 2003. The owners thought using it as a recycling center was a way to make the property useful and generate some income.

The property is zoned for heavy industrial use. But because a recycling center is not allowed in any city zoning district, the Board of Zoning Appeals must first approve a conditional use. So the Golden property owners followed procedure and applied to the Board of Zoning Appeals for approval.

In doing so, the project was scrutinized by the Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Department to see how it met certain criteria. That examination produced a recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals to deny the project.

The property owners’ application to the Board of Zoning Appeals also opened the project to public comment and scrutiny. And since the proposed recycling center would have been a neighbor to area residents, allowing them a chance to share their thoughts was an important step in the process. It gave the public a forum in which to speak and the owners a chance to respond. And the comments from both sides provided information that Board of Zoning Appeals members — who are volunteers — could consider for their vote.

Many nearby residents of the property expressed opposition to the project, but the owners had opportunities to address their concerns.

Ultimately, the Board of Zoning Appeals voted 3-1 June 25 to deny the request for conditional use of a recycling center on the property because it said owners failed to meet two criteria:

The project would not be injurious to neighboring properties.

It would be consistent with the surrounding zoning district and the recommendations of the comprehensive plan.

While the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision grabbed attention because it resolved a hot-button issue, the importance of the public process used to reach the decision shouldn’t be overlooked.

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