Delaware County man fighting proposed roundabout in his front yard

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POWELL — When he read the April 22 letter asking him to meet for an appraisal of his home of nearly four decades in Delaware County’s Concord Township, Larry Dulin immediately thought of the 11 generations of ancestors before him.

Letters such as that one are the first step in what can be costly and often contentious eminent-domain cases.

Dulin thought about the proposed roundabout that would cut into his 2-acre property, the price of progress and the value of history and a family lineage dating to the early 1800s.

The 69-year-old reached out to county officials and others, who he said either didn’t respond or brushed off his concerns. That’s when the idea for the large sign in his front yard emerged, focusing on his towering trees, including cottonwood, oak, flowering plum and redbud, that would be felled.

Flanked by American flags, the sign accuses the county of trying to take all his trees and asks “Why This Spot?”

“Picture my historic home sitting on a concrete roundabout with no trees around it. It destroys the whole essence of a historic home,” Dulin said.

The intersection of Dublin and Home roads has become the latest example of Delaware County’s growth generating conflicts with property rights. By the county’s admission, this legal use of government power for the greater public good is a growing and harsh reality.

“It’s one of the most distasteful parts of my job,” said Chris Bauserman, the Delaware County engineer. The county has 10 roundabouts; two are back-to-back along Home Road east of the one proposed.

A Change.org petition has collected more than 890 signatures in opposition to the proposed roundabout.

Dulin’s sign urges people to call the county. And many have, Bauserman said, but not all in opposition to the $2 million roundabout project in an area where “the traffic is growing even faster than the population.”

“A lot of the calls we get are people sitting in backed-up traffic there,” he said.

Bauserman applauds those who are concerned, including Dulin, and he said that alternatives are being considered, including moving the roundabout south, where vacant parcels are owned by Concord Township and Columbus.

Dulin lives on the northwest corner of the intersection. On the northeast corner is Wild Oak Market, owned by Chelsea Kirchberg and Josh Mabry, who moved from Kansas a year ago to take over the business.

Kirchberg said she knew that upgrades to the intersection were possible, “but we didn’t realize how seasonal this business is, and we didn’t realize it would be this soon.”

Business is brisk, with truck drivers from a nearby quarry stopping for lunch. In the winter, construction work trails off, and so does the market’s revenue.

A year or more of roundabout construction, including road closures, would put the market out of business, she said.

Kirchberg and Dulin both say that a traffic light and turn lanes would be preferred, and cheaper. Engineers say the project, which is to begin in 2021, could cost the county $500,000 more if it’s moved too far south.

Dulin aspires to avoid conflict and stress.

“It’s better to light just one candle than to curse the darkness,” he said. “I figure that putting up that sign was my effort to light a candle. I just want to live quietly here for the rest of my life.”

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@DeanNarciso