New council to vote on rezoning

A newly-reconfigured Columbus City Council with two new members will consider a proposed annexation and rezoning of nearly 80 acres in Wayne Township that has caused a stir among several area residents.

The council will consider on first reading the Columbus Plan Commission’s recommendation to annex and rezone the 78-acre property at 6 p.m. today at Columbus City Hall council chambers, 123 Washington St.

In November, council members approved annexing nearly 20 acres in Wayne Township, even after nearby residents begged the council to reconsider before taking a final vote.

The families live next to 18.97 acres at the northwest corner of State Road 58 and County Road 300W near the Woodside Northwest Industrial Park. They claim that any new industrial development behind their homes would box them inside an industrial park with large factories and warehouses on the west and east sides of their homes.

A request for annexation received final approval from the Columbus City Council on Nov. 6 along with rezoning from “agricultural: preferred” to “industrial: heavy” with some restrictions on the types of facilities that can be built on the property.

Council members will consider today a request to annex and rezone an additional 78-acre property adjacent to the 18.97-acre property. In a letter to council members dated Dec. 16, Jeff Bergman, city and county planning director, said the neighbors have continued to participate in the Columbus Plan Commission’s consideration of the current request.

“Their concerns remain primarily the use, enjoyment and value of their homes as industrial development occurs around them,” Bergman wrote on behalf of the plan commission.

Of the 18.97 acres annexed in 2019, 16.83 of them are owned by the Deckard Family Trust. The annexation includes 2.14 acres of right-of-way on State Road 58 and County Road 300W, Bergman said.

The Deckard Family Trust also owns 76.52 acres of the 78.93-acre property being considered for annexation and rezoning. The additional 2.41 acres is designated right-of-way adjacent to State Road 58.

The current recommendation by the plan commission remains consistent with previous commitments made to prohibit certain types of industrial activities on the property and widen County Road 300W, requirements on the placement of vehicles and loading areas on the property and other provisions designed to “minimize impacts to immediately adjoining homes.”

One of the provisions is a 150-foot-long buffer zone that includes an elevated strip of land that is at least 8-feet tall with a staggered row of evergreen trees that are a minimum 5 feet in height.

An amendment made in November by at-large Councilman Tom Dell to raise the 8-foot-tall berm by 2 feet and move the buffer back 25 feet toward any proposed development failed with support of only three of seven council members.

The council voted unanimously to adopt a fiscal plan for the property to be annexed and annex the property. Dell and former at-large Councilwoman Laurie Booher voted against the rezoning of 16.83 acres, but it passed with a majority vote with the commitments recommended by the city plan commission.

If approved by the council on first reading today, the council could adopt the annexation ordinance and approve the rezoning request on second reading at its Jan. 21 meeting.

State law requires a 30-day waiting period from the day the council approves the annexation before it is effective. During the 30-day period, people can file objections in court to challenge how the city calculated the contiguity of the property with the current city limits.

The land could officially be annexed around Feb. 23 pending any objections, if granted final approval on Jan. 21.

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Columbus City Council members will consider today a recommendation by the Columbus Plan Commission to annex 78.93 acres and rezone 76.52 acres adjacent to the other nearly 20 acres in Wayne Township for possible industrial use. The additional 2.41 acres recommended for annexation are right-of-way.

The council will meet today at 6 p.m. in the Columbus City Hall council chambers, 123 Washington St.