Plan commission considers new airport access drive

The Columbus Plan Commission on Wednesday voted to approve a request for a new access drive at Columbus Municipal Airport, along with two waivers related to the city’s zoning ordinance to allow for it. All three votes were 10-0.

The Columbus Board of Aviation Commissioners had requested approval of a site development plan major modification to build a new access drive off of Arnold Drive. Airport officials said it’s to provide access to future hangars, more specifically three large hangar developments planned next to the access drive.

Airport Director Brian Payne said they had been in “active talks” with three different companies interested in the large hangars and they expect to break ground on those in “anywhere from two to five years.”

A preliminary recommendation by planning department staff suggested the approval of the drive include a condition that the right-of-way for Andrews Street, north of Arnold Street, be vacated and the connection between the two streets be severed. Payne told the commission that he would like to keep Andrews Street as it is for the time being.

“The idea that we want to continue the access drive on Andrews is just ease of use for all of the supply trucks and delivery trucks that we have coming up there,” Payne said, noting they would plan to eliminate the street once they’re ready for further hangar development on the other side of the new drive. Andrews Street would then be converted into a taxiway, according to the airport hangar master plan.

Payne estimated that wouldn’t be until about 10 years down the line.

City/County Planning Director Jeff Bergman asked Payne why the new access drive is needed now, if the new hangers wouldn’t be built for a period of time.

“The new access drive really needs to be put in place before these hanger developers would even thing about building in that location,” Payne said.

Funding to build the access drive will come from the FAA, according to Payne.

Although the Andrew Street condition was struck, planning staff recommended another condition that asks that fire hydrants, meeting the location and other specifications of the fire department, be shown on the project site development plan before a zoning compliance certificate for the construction is issued. That condition was included during the vote.

“We’ll work with the fire department, we’ve met. Again, as an FAA project and the FAA is paying for it, if there’s an opportunity to put an additional fire hydrant at their cost, I think that we certainly will do so,” Payne said.

The two waivers requested dealt with a requirement in the zoning ordinance that requires all entrances and driveways to be curbed and another that states the driveway separation for collector, suburban, industrial streets, like Arnold Street, should be at a minimum of 200 feet.

The waivers could be approved if they met at least one of three criteria

  • Altered requirements better serve the intent of that development requirement
  • Altered requirements better serve the intent of the zoning district
  • Altered requirements better serve six general standards laid out in Section 12.8 (E) of the zoning ordinance

A preliminary staff recommendation by the planning department found that criteria one had been met. Because drainage in the area flows from the street pavement to the road-side ditches, planning department staff found that curbing the entrance could have a negative effect on drainage, therefore omitting the requirement “would better serve the intent of the zoning ordinance’s circulation standards,” according to the planning department’s staff report.

The new drive will be 14.8 feet from another drive on the south side of Arnold Street and separated by 137.5 feet from Andrew Street to the west, less than the 200 feet requirement.

Planning staff found criteria #2 had been met because the location of the new drive “is dictated by the existing taxi lane and needed hangar sizes,” which “provide overall safety and functionality to the airport facility” and overall better serve the intent of the zoning district.

Bergman said airport officials will have to get approval from the plan commission at a later time to build the hangars and a new access drive to the east, adjacent to Columbus Animal Care Services, that will allow a path to the north side.