AAA Storage's plans to build a set of storage units at 10913 Johnstown Road were not supported May 19 by members of the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord Implementation Panel.

AAA Storage's plans to build a set of storage units at 10913 Johnstown Road were not supported May 19 by members of the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord Implementation Panel.

The five members present voted against recommending approval for a zoning change for the project. They each gave their reasons for the refusal.

"The applicant did a wonderful job of presenting the rendering and this plan has gone a long way (from what was originally presented)," said panel member Tom Rybski.

But, Rybski said, the Plain Township land-use plans and the accord plans both show the land use for the area as rural residential, not commercial.

Panel members Don Ballard, Doug Burnip and Derek Benseler agreed, saying the plan itself is not bad but the location isn't right.

Panel member Meera Parthasarathy also said the plan seemed fine but she questioned the location because of its proximity to a stream.

Burnip said the accord panel has recommended some zoning changes in the past, which deviate from land-use plans. But, he said, in those cases, the change was beneficial to the area. When land was rezoned for Abercrombie & Fitch, for example, the business brought much-needed property-tax revenue and took away the possibility of several hundred homes being built, which would have negatively affected the New Albany-Plain Local School District with increased enrollment. Similarly, when residential space on state Route 605 was rezoned for the Sorensen & Sorensen, Optometrists office, it was in an area already surrounded by commercial businesses.

Burnip said AAA Storage wants to build between residential homes, 25 feet from the closest neighbor, and would cover most of the lot with large buildings.

"This is 10 acres surrounded by residential that you want changed to commercial, that's in an area zoned for a one home-per-acre max, that was designated by the township for residential," Burnip said. "This plan presents no compelling reason for the (zoning) change."

Attorney Korey Kidwell, who spoke on behalf of AAA Storage, said the plan meets six of the accord's 10 principles and the other four don't apply.

He said the commercial venture would generate $39,000 to $52,000 a year in property taxes, while the existing home on the 10.788-acre site, an abandoned house built in 1972, generates only $8,800. The lot and house at 10913 Johnstown Road are owned by Playworld Systems Inc. of Pennsylvania, which bought the property in March 2010.

Kidwell said after the meeting, he plans to present the application to the Plain Township Zoning Commission, which will meet again June 9. The commission reviewed the project in May and decided to wait for the accord panel's recommendation before moving forward with a vote.

Both the accord panel and the township zoning commission make recommendations on zoning changes to the Plain Township trustees, who have the final vote on any zoning change in the township. Even though the accord makes recommendations only, Burnip said, trustees have never approved a zoning change that the panel recommended against.

AAA Storage wants to construct 13 buildings with 597 units in two phases, with two buildings and a third larger building for recreational vehicle and boat storage to be built first, said Don Durbin of AAA Storage. The buildings would be surrounded by a green, vinyl-coated chain link fence with a silent alarm system to protect the property inside the units.

Plans shown to the panel May 19 included a 400-foot setback from Johnstown Road and enough landscaping to screen about 80 percent of the buildings from the road and from the neighbors. A detention basin, which would hold storm water runoff, was proposed for the west side of the project.

Several residents spoke against the project May 19. Residents who live on Clouse Road and along Johnstown Road said the road already is busy and traffic turning in and out of a storage facility could cause more issues.

Joanne Adams, who lives on Johnstown Road, said there were 38 reported accidents in the last four years on U.S. Route 62 between Clouse Road and Walnut Street, a total that doesn't count all the "near misses."

Several residents said the local streams could be affected negatively by runoff from the site and others feared the detention basin could attract children.

Kidwell said the site does not contain wetlands and the detention basin is designed to improve drainage.

Holly Morgan, who lives on Stonegate Drive in the New Albany Links subdivision, said the safety of the 50 children on her street could be affected by the project.

One person spoke in favor of the project. Don Shoemaker, who owns property southeast of the site on Johnstown Road, said the storage facility would be an asset that would not hurt property values.