Neighbors protest 25th Street gas station proposal

Editor’s note: This story has been edited since its original posting.

A new gas station is being planned for 25th Street in Columbus, but neighbors are opposing the development. The proposed Ricker’s Gas Station would combine the former rental car and laundry properties between Cherry Street and Cottage Avenue.

About a dozen concerned neighbors turned out last night to a meeting of the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to voice their concerns. Those concerns included crime, possible oversaturation of gas stations in the area, potential chemical spills and worries about a possible increase in tobacco use among children, among others.

Assistant Planning Director Melissa Begley explained that the property is zoned for such a business. Opponents said they planned to ask City Council to rezone the property if necessary to stop the project, but Begley said the project would likely be grandfathered in.

BZA members seemed to struggle at times to get the neighbors to understand that the body does not have the authority to shut down a properly-zoned project. Member Dave Fisher stressed several times that the BZA was only considering the variance requests.

BZA members thanked the group for their input and encouraged them to take the issue up with the city council if they want their neighborhood to be zoned differently.

The project is still on hold until the developers can work out several variances with the Board of Zoning Appeals. Only three members attended yesterday’s meeting and a majority of the board could not be reached to approve variances requested by the developer,

Representatives of Ricker’s requested a half-dozen variances for the project, set to be constructed on consolidated lots at 1711 and 1725 25th Street. Two of the variance requests, focusing on the placement of a dumpster and the placement of an entrance, received majority approval, but failed because all votes must receive at least three positive votes from the five member board to be binding. Only three members of the five-member board were present for the meeting, as Hanna Omar and Eric Frey were absent.

The company must decide whether to wait for the June 28th BZA meeting in the hopes of more members attending to see if they can receive a third “yes” vote, or, make changes to the requests that would satisfy the member who voted against them, Tony London. Representatives for Ricker’s did not indicate what they would do, other than verify that they would be back for the June meeting.