Rocky Fork Enterprise

Water pressure to rise with new booster station

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Residents near Taylor Road should enjoy improved water pressure in the near future.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on July 23 approved several pieces of related legislation to construct a water-booster station at 926 Taylor Road.

City engineer Karl Wetherholt, who filed the application, said the station would improve water pressure in adjoining neighborhoods.

"The booster station is necessary to increase the water pressure in the industrial zone," Wetherholt said. "We have a large industrial user there, consuming a lot of water. It will also help with fire flows, areas on Tech Center Drive and Science Boulevard. It would make it more safe."

Wetherholt said a detention basin was built in 1993, and it has improved peak stormwater flow downstream significantly.

"We don't want to impact that," he said. "We made (the station) to blend in with the residential nature to the north. It's covered with a lot with vegetation from the detention basin. We made the building look as much like a residential structure as we could."

Deputy development director Michael Blackford said the new station would be slightly larger than 500 square feet.

"It's to improve water pressure in the surrounding area," he said. "It will be a red-brick building with an evergreen-colored roof. There was a need for a front-yard variance. It's a fairly diverse area of the city. There are some industrial-type uses. There's a significant amount of vegetation at the site. ... This time of year, it would be totally shielded from Taylor Road."

In connection with the booster station, the commission approved varying the minimum distance between the building setback line and the street right of way from 35 feet to 30 feet, a final development plan and certificate of appropriateness for site plan and building design.

The commission also recommended to council a zoning change for 4.63 acres at 5495, 5505, 5511 and 5515 Morse Road, Parcel No. 025-011234, and 4721 E. Johnstown Road from estate residential to neighborhood commercial. The zoning-change request came from the New Albany Co.

The property is in a transitioning area of the Morse Road corridor. Surrounding properties to the north are within Columbus and recently were developed with multifamily housing.

Developed properties to the south along Johnstown Road are either within Jefferson Township or developed with single-family homes. Properties to the west comprise various zonings and uses, including single-family and multifamily housing and suburban offices.

Neighborhood commercial allows for a variety of uses, including retail stores, personal services, business and professional offices, banks and gas stations.

A specific use for the property hasn't been identified, and additional applications will be required to develop the property, according to Blackford.

"We had two workshops July 2 and July 16, and the essential components were the need for a revised traffic study and clarification on the site plan," he said. "One area that garnered a lot of discussion was the west portion of the property. A conceptual roundabout caused concern. The applicant has removed that."

The commission also approved an application for conditional use to allow professional use for a 154-unit, two-story senior-living facility at 5435 and 5445 Morse Road and parts of 5495 and 5505 Morse Road by applicant Spectrum Acquisitions Gahanna.

A zoning change for the 5.1 acres is being recommended to council.

Attorney Glen Dugger represented the New Albany Co. for the two zoning changes and conditional use. He said traffic concerns have been discussed at length.

"We are very shortly going to bring back a final development plan for the Spectrum," Dugger said. "On the final development plan, we will show the possibility of a roundabout. ... Most of the time, we're trying to aggregate traffic. Here we're trying to disperse it."

Commission member Joe Keehner said the zoning change doesn't seem illogical.

"This would be less traffic than other possible uses," he said.

Commission member Jennifer Price asked the applicant to encourage Columbus to install a roundabout.

"The city of Columbus is not a huge fan of roundabouts," Dugger said. "The roundabout at Johnstown and Morse roads was done by the county. Morse Road is in Columbus. They don't seem to take account our view or Gahanna's view of the roundabout. Maybe we can make some progress there."

Commission member Kristin Rosan said the proposed use is less intensive than other proposed uses on that land.

"What the city of Columbus permits to develop north of Morse isn't under our control," she said. "I will support the application based on commitments from the developer. They will work with the landowner to the west for some type of cross-access agreement."

Commission member Dave Andrews said he wasn't thrilled with the proposal.

"It's the lesser of two evils," he said. "It's better than with housing. I think it would be less traffic. I think it's probably the best thing we can get."

Commission chairman Tom Wester said he's encouraged by the applicant's willingness to work to gain cross access with the landowner to the west.

"I'm looking forward to working with the New Albany Co. as they develop that property," he said.

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