Rocky Fork Enterprise

Sunapple Farms representatives to meet with neighbors

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Northeast School neighbors have been invited by the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities to an informational meeting May 14 concerning the proposed Sunapple Gardens at the school, 500 N. Hamilton Road.

Plans have been pending for Sunapple Farms to allow adults and youth populations from the FCBDD to grow herbs, produce, cut flowers and fruit on a portion of 3.9 acres beside the school.

In Gahanna, FCBDD operates a school-age program at Northeast School and an adult program at ARC Industries East.

Teresa L. Kobelt, director of FCBDD and CEO of ARC Industries, said she has received feedback during the past several weeks concerning the proposed installation of the gardens.

Per city leaders' suggestion, the FCBDD is hosting the information session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the gym at Northeast School.

The Gahanna Planning Commission repeatedly has postponed requests by the FCBDD for a conditional-use permit and variance for a fence.

Kobelt said the issues were scheduled to be tabled again during the May 8 meeting in an effort to provide another opportunity to talk to the neighbors.

The meeting at the school will provide information about the proposed gardens and about the services and support offered through the FCBDD and ARC Industries.

Although FCBDD previously hosted an informational meeting, Kobelt said, many neighbors were unable to attend.

"We would like to offer another opportunity for the community to learn more about this proposal to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers for training and employment opportunities for individuals who have developmental disabilities," she said.

Those who want to attend should enter the school through the main entrance.

During a commission meeting last month, Millwood Court resident David Williams presented a 70-signature petition from many neighbors whose property would abut the proposed gardens.

He said the neighbors believe their property values would be affected negatively by the farm.

Williams told ThisWeek the consensus of the neighbors is that they would support a big garden with no fence or structures on the property.

David Hodge, attorney for FCBDD, has said a conditional-use permit might not even be needed to allow the gardens. He said zoning of the property is an institutional zoning classification, which allows a school and institution for educational purposes. Hodge said uses of educational purposes include not only what's inside school walls but also outside.

The purpose for the proposed garden/farm is for educational reasons, he said.

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