Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard council OKs rezoning for Heritage Preserve site

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Hilliard City Council on Feb. 25 unanimously approved the rezoning of a 419-acre parcel at Alton Darby Creek and Davis roads, clearing the way for Heritage Preserve, a residential development of 687 single- and multifamily homes.

The zoning was changed from restricted residential and agriculture to planned-unit development.

Dan O'Brien, of Planned Development Co. of Ohio, owns the land. Cincinnati-based Fischer Homes would be the developer of the single-family homes and Schottenstein Homes would develop the apartment residences.

The homes are expected to range in price from $250,000 to $600,000.

Heritage Preserve is the first residential development in Hilliard's portion of the Big Darby Creek watershed area and the first subject to the recommendations of the Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel.

Hilliard's decision to support the development drew criticism from the advisory board and the Brown Township trustees.

The Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel unanimously rejected the Heritage Preserve development plan in August. It was the first time the advisory board rejected a plan since the board was formed in 2007.

However, the advisory board's recommendations are not binding, and in November, the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to issue a positive recommendation to City Council.

Hilliard officials also met with the Brown Township trustees Feb. 21 to hear their concerns.

Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt said the viewpoints of each side hadn't changed since trustees unsuccessfully appealed to City Council on Feb. 11 to table the rezoning application.

"We offered our points and our rationale," Schonhardt said. "I think there was at least an understanding that the developer went above and beyond (the minimum requirements) and there are unique components to this development."

Schonhardt said Heritage Preserve should be viewed as a "part of the whole" within the approximately 2,200 acres in Hilliard's portion of the watershed area.

Schonhardt said even though Heritage Preserve's residential density is 1.64 units per acre, 2,000 utility taps are available within the 2,200 acres, yielding a density just less than the one unit per acre recommended in the Big Darby Accord watershed master plan.

Hilliard officials applied density bonuses to the development, allowing the density to exceed one unit per acre in exchange for non-required amenities the developer will provide, including stream restoration, construction of a regional recreational path system, a large amount of open space and infrastructure improvements.

John Tetzloff, president of the Darby Creek Association, attended the Feb. 25 meeting but did not publicly address City Council members. In a written statement, Tetzloff criticized the application of "density bonuses" and appealed to City Council members to reject the rezoning application.

Tetzloff also wrote the development would endanger the creek and "set a dangerous precedent for all future development."

Several people spoke in opposition to the rezoning at a public hearing Feb. 11, but no one addressed City Council during public polling Feb. 25, which occurred after Council had approved the rezoning.

In other business Feb. 25:

* Tom Baker officially was sworn in as the new City Council member.

Baker was appointed to the unexpired term of Stephanie Kunze, who resigned Dec. 31 to begin a term in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Schonhardt administered oaths of office to Baker, as well as Finance Director David Delande and Law Director Tracy Bradford, both of whom had been assistant directors.

* Council adopted a resolution authorizing a contact with Andrew P. Todd to provide urban forestry services to Hilliard at an annual rate of $40,000.

Todd will represent the city on the Shade Tree Commission, address the city's problems with the emerald ash borer and provide inspections as needed among his duties, Public Service Director Butch Seidle said.

* Council members also adopted a resolution authorizing shared services and emergency mutual aid among all Franklin County law-enforcement agencies.

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