Rocky Fork Enterprise

Rezoning would open door to Shops at Rocky Fork

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Gahanna Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would rezone 12 residential parcels on 3.55 acres to neighborhood commercial/mixed-use development along the north side of Hamilton Road and north of Rocky Fork Drive South.

Jason Zadeh, president of Ranger Development Group, and partner Greg Gallas provided an overview of plans for the proposed Shops at Rocky Fork, 291-361 N. Hamilton Road, during the Dec. 4 Planning Commission meeting.

Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the commission is considering only the change of use at this time. Consideration for a certificate of appropriateness or final development plan would be decided later.

Gard said the commission must consider seven criteria for a zoning change, such as compatibility of the site's physical, geological and other environmental features with the potential uses allowed in the proposed zoning district.

In addition, the commission should consider the need for the types of uses permitted in the requested zoning district in relation to the amount of land currently zoned to accommodate the demand.

The Commons at Clark Hall at Hamilton and Granville roads is the only parcel in Gahanna currently zoned neighborhood commercial/mixed use for neighborhood-serving retail. No other properties are available that the applicant could utilize for this project, according to Gahanna's planning division.

Zadeh said it has taken a year of work to get to this point.

The properties are under contract for purchase and would be developed by Ranger.

"The genesis for the project is building on the success of the Clark Hall commons," Zadeh said. "Greg and I were the developers of that project, as well."

He said he wants to build on that achievement and stay within the blueprint of the Hamilton Road corridor plan.

The project would result in the demolition of nine single-family homes along the west side of Hamilton Road.

It would lead to the construction of three retail structures with pedestrian common areas that create outdoor amenities, complementing the retail services.

Zadeh said special attention has been paid to timeless architecture, landscaping, public social space and sound planning principles.

"We see this corridor as a key aspect to the community," he said. "We realize this offers the opportunity to create a sense of place. We feel this is a gateway location."

Zadeh said the general character of the project would offer addition services to local residents with high-quality design and planning.

"Greg and I recognize when you do a transition project, there are key components like buffering, lighting and safety," he said. "We propose three buildings, one on the corner (at Rocky Fork Drive South and Hamilton Road), transitioning to two buildings."

The building on the corner is proposed at 4,480 square feet. Parking would be between that building and the second and third buildings that would be 11,200 square feet each.

Zadeh said a key component of the project is 790 feet along Hamilton that would feature a hedge row, herb plantings and a decorative fence.

"It would create a buffer between a high-volume-traffic road and pedestrian connectivity to take you all the way to Granville (Road)," he said. "We asked (architect) Carter (Bean) to come up with an architectural scheme different than Clark Hall. We really like how it came together. We came up with something more turn-of-the-century. It's something that looks like it has been there a long time."

He said the buildings feature four-sided architecture, with walkways between them.

"You can see public space, large setbacks, places for bikes," Zadeh said.

To the rear of the shops, a fence is proposed, as are significant tree plantings. The trees would be 14 to 15 feet tall to start with a canopy of 10 feet.

"From day one, we'll have significant trees in the back," Zadeh said. "We've made an attempt to make a robust buffer to the rear.

"We will also be extending the sidewalk to connect to your existing bike path heading west. Pedestrian connectivity is important to us."

Maureen Johnson said she has a rental in back of the proposed project, and she questioned the height of the fence.

Zadeh said it would 6 feet high.

"I don't think that's enough," she said. "This will detract from the value of my property. I would like something more substantial. I think the Clark Hall commons is one of the ugliest (developments) I've seen."

Zadeh was scheduled to host a workshop to discuss the project with neighbors/residents Dec. 10, after ThisWeek's press deadline.

In commission action Dec. 4, several pieces of related legislation for the Creekside District Apartments were rejected unanimously.

Applicant Strathmore Development Co. was absent.

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