Hilliard Northwest News

Davidson Run residents wary of proposed apartments

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Residents of the Davidson Run subdivision overflowed a conference room at Norwich Township Fire Station 83 on March 31 for a meeting with the potential developer of apartments on 15.9 acres north of the Davidson Road and Trueman Boulevard intersection.

About 80 residents filled a small conference room and hallway at Station 83, 4283 Davidson Road, where Connie Klema, an attorney for Vision Development, explained her client's proposal to construct 381 multifamily buildings immediately west of the Davidson Run subdivision.

About 48 acres are undeveloped north of the intersection of Davidson Road and Trueman Boulevard. Vision Development is proposing that 15.9 acres be rezoned for multifamily residences; 4.6 acres be dedicated for the public right of way required to connect Trueman Boulevard to Edwards Farms Road to the north; and 27 acres remain in the B-3 commercial zoning district for institutions and offices.

Klema and Todd Foley, a project manager for POD Design, led the meeting, but Hilliard Mayor Don Schonhardt also addressed residents' questions from his place in the audience.

Service Director Butch Seidle, Economic Development Director David Meeks and City Planner John Talentino also were in the audience.

The March 31 meeting was scheduled after Davidson Run residents attended a March 13 meeting of the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission, at which Klema first presented the proposed development at an informal session.

Klema said at the conclusion of the March 31 meeting that Vision Development would ask for its rezoning application to be tabled at the April 10 planning and zoning commission meeting and at least one additional meeting with Davidson Run residents would be scheduled.

Klema told residents Vision Development has yet to complete studies on traffic, storm water, tree replacement and other issues crucial to determining the precise placement of buildings and infrastructure.

Some residents called attention to the fact that Wolpert Enterprises, including Larry Wolpert, a former member of Hilliard City Council and the Ohio House of Representatives, owns the 47.6 acres that Vision Development seeks to develop.

They challenged Klema about a connection between Vision Development and Wolpert Enterprises.

"I have no idea," said Klema, saying she represented Vision Development and was not aware if Wolpert were associated with the company. Schonhardt interjected that Wolpert was not associated with the company.

Many residents said they were concerned about the density of the development, traffic congestion and the number of children from the new development who would be added Hilliard schools.

Resident Erin Stitt said she was "skeptical" of the report Klema pledged to provide that indicated such multifamily apartments do not generate significant numbers of children.

"Families do what they need to do to get their kids in Hilliard schools," Stitt said.

Scott Emch said Hilliard schools likely would needanother levy because of the additional number of families with children he believes the development will attract.

Greg Rogers said the "density overwhelms us" and expressed his frustration that a former Hilliard mayor, Roger Reynolds, promised Davidson Run residents the parcel would remain as it was originally zoned, B-3, when Davidson Run was constructed in the mid-1990s.

"Everyone here is opposed to apartments," Rogers said. "How about you build condos?"

"We're not proposing condos because my client builds and owns apartments," Klema replied.

"Put yourself in our shoes," resident Tina Macioce said. "You wouldn't want 381 apartments in your backyard. It's not good for our city."

Several other residents opined about the conditions they associate with apartments, including lack of property maintenance and increases in crime.

Foley addressed the architectural aspects of the development, saying it will showcase a variety of quality elements.

Buffering will be provided, including trees, shrubs and fencing, but placement is subject to the conditions of a utility easement that bisects the parcel, Foley said.

Schonhardt cautioned residents that much remains to be determined in the next few months, including the rezoning of the parcel before any development is considered.

"Anyone presuming this to be a done deal needs to get their head out of wherever it is," Schonhardt said.

Responding to a resident who referred to his State of the City address earlier in March, Schonhardt reiterated the city's need to react to an ongoing change in demographics.

"Our 'millennials' and retiring baby boomers don't want single-family homes," he said. "We need to have the housing in place for the (new) people coming down the pike and that's (high-quality) apartments, not single-family homes."

Brian English, president of the Davidson Run Homeowners Association, said after the meeting he was pleased with the attendance and considered their effort "a marathon and not a sprint."

"We want to make sure we have adequate input (into this proposal) and feel we took a good first step today," English said.

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