The Canal Winchester Times

Church seeks rezoning to build on 27-acre site

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Crossroads Church in Lithopolis is seeking to rezone 27 acres at the southeast corner of Gender Road and Canal Street where the congregation wants to construct a new 41,000-square-foot facility.

The potential opening of the new church could result in adding another pond to the city's inventory, thus creating an opportunity to connect an existing multiuse path to Gender Road.

Development Director Lucas Haire said at Canal Winchester City Council's committee of the whole meeting June 30 that Crossroads Church is negotiating the purchase of 27 acres at the site.

The land was originally zoned for multifamily apartments. At that point, according to Haire, the city agreed to take the ponds and the land in the floodplain, if and when the property was developed.

That development never occurred, but as part of the current pending sale, the city is still agreeing to take ownership of the pond and floodplain, he said.

He said the rezoning request is scheduled for the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission's July 14 meeting.

According to Haire, the donation of this property would enable the Cherry Landing bike path to be connected to Gender Road, which is something the city has had on its five-year capital improvement project list for several years, but has been unable to act on so far because of a lack of connecting land.

Councilman Rick Deeds asked if the pond could be made "active," instead of serving as only a retention pond.

"If you're asking what we'd like to do, I guess I'd like it to be more of an active pond, and it would be cool to have a fountain, but I know that's expensive," Deeds said. "Or what about an active wetland?"

Mayor Michael Ebert said he thinks the wetland idea would be unattractive to the community, based on the appearance of the wetland installed near the U.S. Route 33 Lancaster bypass.

"That doesn't look nice to me, and we want something that will look nice," Ebert said.

Haire said the cost associated with changing the pond to incorporate a fountain would be prohibitive. He suggested screening it instead, using mounding and appropriate evergreen vegetation.

Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon asked if it wouldn't be better to first get the multiuse path on Washington Street connected to the schools.

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said there still is a lack of connecting properties for the Washington Street path, and until land can be purchased or usage agreements made with current owners, the city is unable to complete that connection.

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