Rocky Fork Enterprise

FCBDD youth program

Proposed farm off Hamilton Road raises concerns

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Some Gahanna neighbors aren’t buying into plans for a farm off North Hamilton Road, where adults and youth populations from the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities would grow produce, herbs, cut flowers and fruit.

During a March 27 Gahanna Planning Commission meeting, a conditional use was requested to allow a portion of 3.93 acres at the existing Northeast School, 500 N. Hamilton Road, be used for agricultural purposes for an agricultural production farm.

Teresa Kobelt, director of FCBDD and CEO of ARC Industries, said a mission is to help people to live, learn and work in their community.

“Gahanna is the herb capital,” she said. “When 4 acres were no longer being used for soccer fields, we thought it would be an opportunity to grow lots and lots of herbs.”

Throughout central Ohio, Kobelt said, more people are interested in sustainable farming.

She said the farm would be managed and maintained by a full-time production farmer and staffed by FCBDD with the goal of producing an abundant variety of locally grown, chemical-free produce, fruit, cut flowers and herbs following organic growing practices.

Millwood Court resident David Williams said his property backs up to the proposed project.

He said he takes issue with proposed fencing that he describes as looking like “chicken wire.”

Williams said he would like the fence to be wooden down one side, buffering his property.

Haversham Drive resident Joe Mullan asked how many hogs would be on the property.

“Hogs are agriculture,” he said. “They could have chickens, cattle and sheep. This has to be tied down. How often and who will inspect the property to make sure whatever plans are followed and that hogs aren’t out there?”

Kobelt said FCBDD has no plans for livestock.

“It’s an opportunity for training to grow food,” she said. “We go through rigorous inspections.”

The commission has scheduled a 6:15 p.m. April 3 workshop to further discuss the plan.

Meadowbrooke

A proposal for the Meadowbrooke subdivision, 5593 Havens Corners Road, also was postponed, with action scheduled for April 10.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on March 27 was scheduled to vote on the proposed Meadowbrooke subdivision with 15 residential lots at 5593 Havens Corners Road.

Attorney David Hodge, representing Doug Maddy's Brookewood Inc., told the commission during a March 20 workshop that 15 homes are needed to make the project viable.

The current zoning is limited-overlay single-family residential, and the proposed rezoning is the same, but with changes to the limited-overlay and development plan. In addition to seeking an increase in overall density, variances are requested for curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

The property was rezoned in late 2006 to residential-overlay district to permit a nine-lot single-family subdivision with a preservation zone setback area.

Hodge said he has given thought to commission member Joe Keehner's request for innovation on the property that's surrounded by single-family homes.

"He wanted to be convinced it was different," Hodge said. "He wanted something more imaginative. I appreciate that comment."

Hodge said the single-family development would incorporate best-management practices for stormwater controls.

"As to imaginative, that segues to the variance request," Hodge said. "How we treat that stormwater runoff is so new that codes haven't caught up to it for that type of treatment. We think we have been imaginative."

Hodge said it's difficult to do in-fill development any time.

"Given the restrains of property -- and there's so much scrutiny -- we're limited in what we could do," he said. "If we brought anything but single-family, we'd be run out of town."

Keehner said he walks the site, and lots 10 and 11 are skinny considering the topography.

He asked if condos had been considered but admitted the neighbors probably would "skin you alive."

"I look at it from design," Keehner said. "My only big issue is the two lots at 10 and 11. There's a lot of building for that topography, in my opinion. I know you're bending backwards, in terms of runoff. I have a hard time arguing with your arguments.

"It's a neat site," he said. "Doing a traditional layout like this is a little sad, in my opinion, but I can't fault your arguments so far."

Maddy said he believes lots 10 and 11 would have the most character, with opportunity for features like walk-out basements.

Hodge said the development is on the low side of Gahanna's land-use plan that calls for three to five units per acre for single-family zones.

The proposal is 3.2 units per acre, as the area of the subdivision is 4.7 acres in total. The previous density was about 1.9 units per acre.

Civil engineer Jim Watkins, of Watcon Consulting, said the development has an "overkill" design, with many best-management-practice techniques to handle storm water.

"I'm excited to implement this in Gahanna," he said. "I want to show it off. It gives me a platform for more work."

Watkins said the proposed development has a mixture of best-management practices, including a dry pond, a rain garden and open channel system.

Watkins had a standing-water problem at his Olde Gahanna office on Shull Avenue several years ago, he said, so he planted a rain garden to capture storm water and infiltrate that water within 24 hours. He uses it as a teaching tool for clients, he said.

"The simple rain garden I developed myself manages 2.5 acres," Watkins said. "To put it in perspective, one rain garden can take on 2.5 acres of draining. What we're implementing is well-beyond this."

In addressing traffic concerns along Havens Corners Road, Hodge referred to a study by the J. Gallagher Group.

In a report, John Gallagher said an analysis was done for Meadowbrooke, including consideration for a turn lane. He wrote that the volume from the proposed development would be low -- less than 1 percent of the total traffic on Havens Corners Road.

From a traffic-engineering standpoint, Gallagher wrote, it warrants no improvements and meets all applicable standards that apply to an access point.

Harvest Ridge Court resident Ed Francis asked about plans for the "big, ugly barn" in the middle of the property.

Hodge said the barn would stay with improvements.

For more on this story, read the April 4 edition of ThisWeek Rocky Fork Enterprise.

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