Northwest News

Apartment project gets NWCA approval, barely

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Requests that would allow an apartment complex to be built on land currently zoned for industrial uses at 4692 Kenny Road narrowly squeaked by the Northwest Civic Association Board of Trustees last week.

The 4-3 vote, with Chairman John Ehlers abstaining because he was not called upon to break a tie, will permit construction of 114 units of one- and two-bedroom apartments on the 3.77-acre site near intersection of Kenny Road and Circle Drive, according to attorney Jill Tangeman of Vorys, Slater, Seymour and Pease LLC.

She appeared before the trustees representing Preferred Real Estate.

During the monthly meeting, Zoning and Graphics Committee Chairwoman Rosemarie Lisko repeatedly said she would prefer two-story apartment buildings rather than the three-story ones being sought, but Nick King of Preferred Real Estate said the project was not financially feasible with fewer than the requested apartments.

The number of units is down from the 120 originally requested -- the result, Tangeman said, of eliminating two variances from required setbacks.

That was done at the behest of city personnel who indicated the project should have more green space.

Originally, variance requests were to be made to City Council on all four sides of the property, but Tangeman said the additional green space means only reduced setbacks to the sides are still being sought.

The property is "somewhat unique," she said, in that it's surrounded by industrial zoning on three sides but sits across from Lanning Drive, a street of single-family homes with some duplexes mixed in.

Some residents of Lanning Drive, were on hand to express concern tenants of the proposed apartments would use their road as a shortcut if the project goes through.

"We think it's a good location for multifamily," Tangeman said. "We think that's a nice transition."

A traffic access study determined the number of units proposed would not require a turn lane or other modifications at the entry, she told NWCA trustees.

"I just think three stories is going to be too high for the area," Lisko said.

Preferred Real Estate would "walk away" from purchasing the site or consider developing storage units on it if two-story buildings were required, King said.

"This, to me, is a better use for the neighborhood," he added.

"I know density is a tough word," Tangeman put in, adding it does help fund "nicer buildings and better landscaping."

The project is intended primarily for young professionals and graduate students, Tangeman and King said. Rents would range from $900 to $1,200, King indicated.

"I still would rather see two stories, at least on the front building," Lisko said.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't work for us," King told her.

Lisko ended up joining Kyle Hartman, Greg Marietti and new trustee Julie Schlosser in recommending approval of the rezoning and variance.

Voting against it were Dave Shaw, Kellie Ehlers and the other new board member, Jeri Milstead.

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