Columbus Council unanimously approved a zoning change Thursday evening that will allow St. Francis Hospital to locate a 380-space parking lot behind the hospital’s burgeoning campus.
Council approved changing property at 4043, 4042, 4036, 4037, 4031 and 4030 Acacia Drive, 4119, 4121 and 4123 Maxwell Drive, and 4142, 4148 and 4152 St. Francis Drive from single family residential zoning to residential office zoning.
The hospital will be required to install a buffer between the parking lot and any residential lots that abut the property.
Forty property owners whose property is within 300 feet of the proposed lot were notified of the plan and only three responded, according to a staff report to council. Those residents expressed concern about potential loss of property value, increased traffic, noise and pollution.
Rick Jones, city planning director, worked with St. Francis on preparing their application for rezoning. He said the additional parking will help St. Francis’ expanding parking problem, but it’s possible it will not be enough.
The health care complex is currently leasing parking spaces near Legacy Chevrolet on Manchester Expressway and running a shuttle service for employees who have to park there.
Once the hospital’s new building is open and fully staffed, it and the city will revisit the parking situation to see if what was approved Thursday is adequate. If not, the hospital may have to come back to council to readdress the situation, Jones said.
“We have worked with the hospital as much as we can and to lessen the impact on the neighborhood as much as we could,” Jones said. “We understand the importance of the hospital to the community, but we also understand the importance of protecting the neighborhoods around it.”
In an effort to protect the neighborhood, councilors increased the requirements for a buffer zone between the parking lot and abutting residential properties.
“They’re going to have to provide some greenery and make sure that the lighting doesn’t bleed over into the neighborhood,” Jones said.