Decisions concerning Sunapple Farms, a proposed educational garden by Northeast School, have been postponed to the April 24 Gahanna Planning Commission meeting.
David Hodge, attorney for the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, requested the delay during the April 10 commission meeting. He said the FCBDD might not seek a variance that would allow a fence to exceed 6 feet at 500 N. Hamilton Road.
Hodge also previously informed the commission that a conditional-use permit might not be needed to allow a portion of 3.9 acres to be used for a garden. He said zoning of the property is an institutional zoning classification and that classification allows a school and institution for educational purpose.
Hodge said uses for educational purposes include not only what’s inside school walls but also outside. The purpose for this garden/farm is for educational purposes, he said.
The plan for Sunapple Farms is to allow adults and youth populations from the FCBDD to grow herbs, produce, cut flowers and fruit.
In Gahanna, FCBDD operates a school-age program at Northeast School and an adult program at ARC Industries East.
Assistant city attorney Tom Weber said he and city attorney Shane Ewald are reviewing the case.
“There are a number of things to address with the applicant,” Weber said. “They feel this is a permitted use. It’s not totally resolved yet. We’re looking into it. There are some legal issues.”
If the FCBDD doesn’t seek a fence higher than 6 feet, no variance is needed for the farm, he said.
Millwood Court resident Judy Horch asked if building permits would be needed for structures like high tunnels and a greenhouse.
“Those are all issues on the table,” Weber said.
Commission chairman Don Shepherd said permanent and temporary structures require different rules.
Millwood Court resident David Williams presented the commission with a 70-signature petition from many neighbors whose property would abut the proposed farm.
“No one seems to want this farm to be placed in the area in the present form that is being requested,” Williams said. “We ask that this farm not be allowed to become part of our area.”
He said the neighbors believe their property values would be negatively affected by the farm.
Following the meeting, Williams told ThisWeek the neighbors oppose any structures and the fence itself.
“If they have a big garden without anything else, no problem,” he said. “No fence at all and no structures is the consensus of the neighbors. We support doing something for the handicapped.”
Williams said the neighbors also would support a community garden that would include local residents.
Hodge previously told the commission the FCBDD wants to be a good neighbor and would work with residents regardless of whether a conditional-use permit is needed.
A public hearing is scheduled for April 24.
In other commission action, a final development plan, design review and variances were approved for Columbus Academy, 4300 Cherry Bottom Road.
Gahanna deputy development director Leah Evans said an interior loop is being redesigned to allow a more efficient traffic pattern. The plan will allow smaller-than-standard parking spaces.
A new maintenance facility also is being built on the property near the tennis courts, on the northern side of the property.
Because of the parking lot redevelopment, 19 new trees will be planted by the maintenance facility, and a total of 80 new trees will be planted in conjunction with the loop road.