Despite some concerns from neighbors, the Gahanna Planning Commission approved a preliminary plat for a new 13-lot subdivision off Stygler Road.
The commission on Jan. 8 approved a preliminary plat for Oak Grove on 4.58 acres at 4185 Stygler Road for applicant Edward L. Minhinnick.
The commission also approved variances for the property to allow eight lots to have less than 11,000 square feet of area; to allow lot frontage of less than 80 feet on 12 of 13 lots; and to allow side yards of less than 7 1/2 feet wide on all lots.
Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the 13 lots are within the prescribed requirements for the single-family zoning.
Gard said city staff members recommended the variance requests that are similar in nature to those approved for Woodside Meadows, the subdivision directly to the south.
Many of the lots surrounding the proposed subdivision are zoned planned-unit development and have similar lot areas and setbacks to those proposed, according to Gard.
Resident Harold Slager said he's concerned about green space that would be eliminated. He also asked how close the new homes would be to existing properties.
Crystal Cay resident John Patock asked about the traffic impact and how the subdivision would affect the tree line on the south side of the property.
"I would like a smaller amount of housing than 13," he said. "I think that would be beneficial."
Bluestem Avenue resident Ryan Eich said his house abuts the property.
"There's a large tree line that surrounds this property," he said. "As a neighbor in this area, what will happen with this tree line?"
For a single-family home builder, trees have tremendous value, said Glen Dugger, with Smith & Hale, the law firm representing Minhinnick.
"People like to buy a house with a substantial tree," he said. "The developer has every incentive in the world to preserve trees."
Bluestem resident William Fenton said he grew up in the neighborhood, and he had a great time playing tag football and other sports in the open field.
"There isn't a park within walking distance," he said.
Dugger said the property isn't a public park; it's private property.
"I'm glad kids were able to play there," he said. "They have a right to develop the property, and they're trying to develop it as appropriately as possible."
He said the property is too narrow for a standard-type subdivision.
"That causes the necessity of this application," he said. "We met with staff to look at ways to make this work. To use an overlay, they thought, was awkward. We decided on a means of processing this by applying for a preliminary plat with a package of variances."
Residential overlay is a residential development in which the overall density is consistent with the underlying zoning district over which the residential overlay district is applied, according to information from the city. But modifications would be permitted in lot size and shape to concentrate residential development in portions of the overall tract.
An overlay wouldn't be applied to this subdivision.
Dugger said the property is in contract with Schottenstein Homes and that residences would be consistent with homes to the south.
Project engineer Casey Elliott said the tree line to the north is being preserved. On the south side, plant life also would be undisturbed to provide privacy to existing homeowners.
He said the 13 lots are estimated to generate 130 traffic transactions per day that Stygler can handle.
Commission member Joe Keehner said he initially wasn't comfortable with allowing 13 lots.
"I think the developer has tried to balance it with preserving the tree line," he said. "My discomfort isn't what it was when I saw this."
The commission will consider a related variance regarding sidewalks Jan. 22.
In other commission action, revisions were approved for a final development plan and a certificate of appropriateness for HealthServe Gahanna Real Estate to redevelop the former Huntington Bank at 445 Rocky Fork Blvd. into an ExpressMed urgent-care facility.
The commission also approved a variance to allow a side yard to be less than 15 feet wide for property at 845 Clotts Road.
During the commission's reorganization meeting, Thomas Wester was elected chairman and Kristin Rosan vice chairman.
The meeting times and days for the commission also were set for 2014. The commission will meet at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, except November and December, when the meetings will be held during the first and third weeks of the month.