Columbus City Council last night took the first formal step toward using eminent domain to seize a 6.5 acre property near downtown.
Jim Letizia reports.
On a 4-3 vote, council approved a resolution that clears the way for court proceedings to begin. The city wants to acquire the property at 1355 McKinley Avenue to relocate some operations from the arena district area. Those operations include snow plows and a salt barn, as well as code enforcement and facilities management offices. Columbus Finance Director Paul Rakosky says arena district development and environmental concerns are fueling the move. Rakosky says land in the area is difficult to find, and the city needs the site. Rakosky says the city negotiated a price for the land in September, but in late October, the owner told officials he accepted a lower offer from a third party. Columbus City Attorney Rick Pfeifer says using eminent domain is legal in this case, but unusual. Council members Zach Klein, Michelle
Mills, and Andy Ginther voted against the resolution, citing concerns about the lack of a public hearing on the issue, and concerns the city is using eminent domain as a negotiating tool. Sponsoring Council Member Priscilla Tyson said further legislative action will be discussed in early December. Council last night also approved raising water rates by 4 percent and sewer rates by 1 percent next year. Columbus residents next year will pay 5 dollars more on average for their water and sewer service. The increases fund system
upgrades and help the city comply with consent decrees over sewage overflows. Council also approved a three year contract with the Columbus Fraternal Order of Police. The deal announced last month gives Columbus officers a 7 percent raise, but increases their health insurance costs. The deal was reached with
the help of a state fact finder.