Hilliard Northwest News

'Change is coming' to 48 acres near I-270, Davidson

Plans taking shape to build apartments, connect roads

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Trueman Boulevard would be extended north across Davidson Road to connect with Edwards Farms Road as part of a proposal to construct 381 multifamily residences on 15.9 acres east of Interstate 270.

The project also would include the eventual development of office and commercial buildings on the parcel north of Davidson Road, which totals 47.6 acres, according to Connie Klema, an attorney for the developer, Vision Development.

Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission members considered the residential portion of the proposed development March 13 during a scheduled information session. No formal plans were considered or submitted.

Several residents from the Davidson Run subdivision attended the meeting and spoke in opposition of the proposed development. Some said they were surprised about the suddenness of the announcement.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Klema and Brian English, president of the Davidson Run Homeowners Association, agreed to meet and discuss the specifics of the development before a plan is formally submitted to the planning and zoning commission, possibly at the April 10 meeting.

The meeting was not immediately scheduled.

"I feel like this has been a thief in the night," said English, who questioned why only a few residents were notified, and why notices came from the city and not the developer.

City Planner John Talentino said only those living within 200 feet of the property being rezoned were notified.

Klema said she went "above and beyond" the requirement, as those living at even greater distances were notified.

She also said she took exception to the "thief in the night" analogy, saying there was no other way for her to inform all neighbors other than to make the city aware of the developer's desire to rezone the land, and having the city, in turn, properly notify residents.

Mayor Don Schonhardt, who serves on the planning and zoning commission, also said he took exception to the comment, stating the meeting was made "as public as possible."

The 47.6-acre parcel in question is owned by Wolpert Enterprises, including Larry Wolpert, a former member of Hilliard City Council and the Ohio House of Representatives.

Vision Development is proposing that 15.9 acres be rezoned for multifamily residences; 4.6 acres be dedicated for the public right of way necessary to connect Trueman Boulevard to Edwards Farms Road; and 27 acres remain in the B-3 commercial zoning district for institutions and offices.

The 47.6 acres have been zoned B-3 since the mid-1990s, when Davidson Run was platted, and promised by a former mayor -- Roger Reynolds -- to always remain such, said Greg Rogers, who lives on Davidson Run Drive.

"I'm sure you were ... but now it's a possibility (that it will be developed)," Schonhardt said.

Schonhardt also refuted Rogers' assertion that the new apartments would generate two children per unit.

"There are no statistics to support that," Schonhardt said.

Other residents raised concerns that included greater burdens on schools and public services, increases in traffic and crime, loss of property value, lack of buffering and loss of aesthetics.

"This will all be in my backyard. ... My daughter plays in the backyard and I don't want to look at apartments," said Donna Steyer, of Thims Court.

Lindsay Weisenauer, of Davidson Run Drive, showed commission members pictures of the sunset in her backyard.

Talentino said while the proposal is "consistent with the recommendations of the comprehensive plan concerning the construction of an important thoroughfare connection," the proposed land use represented a "deviation from the recommendations concerning land use."

The staff report recommended the planning and zoning commission consider a number of factors, including landscaping and tree-replacement requirements; adequate left-turn lanes at the potential intersection of Edwards Farms and Davidson roads; adequate on-street and off-street parking; pedestrian and bicycle accommodations; and a cap on the number of three-bedroom units.

Commission members offered little insight, but told residents to prepare for some kind of change.

"Change is coming," said Schonhardt, adding that the upcoming meetings are opportunities to discuss and shape that change.

Commission member John Bryner said while he has concerns about the density of the residential development -- about 24 units per acre -- and the height of the apartment buildings, some sort of development will occur.

"If the people think it was going to stay as a field ... for the next 50, 100 years, you are mistaken," Bryner said. "It will develop. What we would like to do is try to make sure it is developed appropriately."

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