October 12, 2010 11:23:00 AM
The Columbus Planning Commission and the City Council are locked in a ping-pong match, with one business owner, and a Columbus neighborhood, unfairly batted back and forth.
Janet Morris operates The Beauté Salon at 804 Warpath Road, which is in a residential neighborhood. Her building is zoned residential, and was grandfathered in to current zoning codes.
Last month, she asked the Planning Commission for a zoning change to ad a 200-square-foot addition onto her building, to accommodate a shoe store.
The Planning Commission denied the request, citing the city''s own zoning ordinances.
Morris appealed to the City Council. The council sent the request back to the Planning Commission. Again, yesterday, the commission denied the request. Morris will again appeal to the City Council.
We bet lunch the council approves the request, and here''s why.
Politics are at play here, when they shouldn''t be. The City Council didn''t want to confront the issue, so they kicked it back to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is doing its job, interpreting the city code the best it can.
Opposing the business addition are neighbors already upset about the location of the new county health department nearby, and the increased traffic it could bring up and down their streets. They don''t want the neighborhood to change more.
Unfortunately, race is at play here as well. The neighbors opposing the addition are white. Morris is black, as is a majority of the City Council, which split along racial lines to send the matter back to the Planning Commission.
Racial politics are ugly. It''s also ugly how the council isn''t trusting its own planning commission to weigh these decisions and come to a just conclusion.
What we''re left with is a mess which isn''t satisfying anyone. With all due respect to Morris and her right to own a business, we hope the council stops playing politics. It''s certainly the council''s prerogative to overturn the commission''s rulings, if it has good reason to. But we don''t see race politics as a good reason.