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From: Frank J. McDonald
Received: Aug. 30
As a homeowner at Harrison Lake, I attended a meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals at City Hall on Aug. 27.
The makeup of the board is dominated by appointees of the mayor of Columbus and the City Council, for whom those of us living outside the city do not get the opportunity to vote.
The board agenda was rearranged to accommodate the late arrival of the attorney representing Milo Smith, the petitioner of the Harrison Lake property. So the 70-plus people from Harrison Lake in attendance waited.
The first case was decided in a sympathetic and unanimous way by the board in what appeared to be a Solomon-like spirit despite the recommendation of the Planning Department to deny the petition based on its opinion that the case did not satisfy the rules for a variance.
I applaud the board’s decision on the grounds of common sense.
In the Harrison Lake case it was expected by the residents that the board would deny Milo Smith’s petition as it had done in 2011. The petition was being reheard by the Board of Zoning Appeals only because of an appeal to a court that ruled that a clerical error had been made by the board in documenting its decision the first time. For some unexplained reason the board decided to revisit the entire case despite the petition being previously denied and the precedence of a similar denial by the board when petitioned by the previous owners.
There was no new substantive information presented by the petitioner, however, with minimal discussion and even more minimal questions by the board members the board reversed itself and the petition for a variance was approved.
In an attempt to try to explain how this happened to the shocked and outraged residents of Harrison Lake, I would like to propose that in the spirit of historical outrages we memorialize and baptize the event.
Faced with the problem of no effective representation on the board, as was the case that spawned the original tea party and led to the creation of this great nation, and with a jurisdiction definition that is reminiscent of Governor Gerry of Massachusetts who gave us the term gerrymandering, it was difficult for most of us to understand what had changed. I was reminded of the British absentee landlord’s representative Colonel Boycott, who ignored the will of 90 percent of his Irish tenants, and the resultant action gave us the term boycott.
And so with the many bizarre elements of this case and the addition of the pervasive influence of Milo Smith, a prominent real estate businessman and a locally elected state politician who doesn’t seem to mind having the same approval rating as the U.S. Congress, at least at Harrison Lake, the decision was an unpleasant surprise.
So with all that as background I would like to suggest a new term for the time when we feel that bureaucracy and government have not served “we the people” well.
I believe we were Milo-ed.
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