Rocky Fork Enterprise

Northeast School plans

Commission postpones Sunapple Farms to June 12


Applications for the proposed Sunapple Farms at the Northeast School, 500 N. Hamilton Road, have been postponed again by Gahanna's Planning Commission.

The Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities has applied for a conditional-use permit to allow a 3.93-acre portion of the parcel to be used for agricultural uses and a request to allow a fence to exceed 6 feet in height.

The commission on May 22 postponed the issue until the June 12 commission.

David Hodge, attorney for the applicant, told the commission that an informational meeting May 14 went "relatively well" with about 20 neighbors. He said an architect has been engaged for the design review process, and he wanted to make sure the applications were postponed.

Sunapple Farms is a plan 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.

Neighbors previously submitted a 70-signature petition opposing the plans. They cited decreased property values as one reason, and some said they would support a big garden with no fence or structures on the property.

Hodge has said a conditional-use permit might not be needed to allow the gardens. He said zoning of the property is an institutional zoning classification that allows a school and institution for educational purposes.

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

In other commission action, a variance was approved to allow a shed to encroach into the 10-foot rear setback for property at 280 Millside Drive.

Applicant Andrew Colburn requested the setback to allow a decent backyard while providing a needed storage area, he said.

"My wife and I accumulated stuff that won't go in our one-car garage or basement," he said. "There isn't much room."

The shed will be away from the remainder of the neighborhood, and it will back up to a small wooded area that will make it unnoticeable from the north.

Neighbor Novecia Custis said the shed wouldn't affect her.

"He's good on keeping up his property," she said. "There's no detriment. I have no opposition as a neighbor."

Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard visited the property earlier in the day with commission chairman Donald Shepherd.

"There are a 40-foot setback from Cherry Bottom and a 25-foot setback from Millside," she said. "Behind the residence is a concrete patio and arbor on the line. There's really nowhere else to put this shed. We wanted to make sure there was no other alternative. My visit shows there isn't."