Movement arises against proposed apartments
A group of concerned residents hope to put a stop to plans that could bring 550 new townhouse apartments to Powell by 2014.
About a week after it went up Sept. 13, more than 300 people had signed a petition to stop the proposed development of an apartment complex they worry would bring unmanageable traffic and population to the area.
Under current plans, the up-scale apartment complex would be constructed in the vacant lot behind the Urban Active fitness center, on the south side of Seldom Seen Road just east of Sawmill Parkway in Powell.
At its Aug. 21 meeting, Powell City Council approved an initial development agreement with Lifestyle Real Estate Holdings Ltd.
The final development plan is in progress. The complex is expected to incorporate public retail outlets along Seldom Seen Road and a "club house" restaurant positioned on Sawmill Parkway.
Some residents worry the proposed apartments would bring traffic that would crowd roads and would strain city services such as police and fire protection.
Jim Kamnikar is a resident of the Olentangy Ridge subdivision, located adjacent to the site proposed for the apartments.
He started the online petition after he saw complaints and concerns cropping up on a Facebook group dedicated to the subdivision.
"A lot of us are working our rear ends off to buy a home in Powell," he said. "We have apartments here already, and the general feeling is we don't need more."
The group's No. 1 concern is traffic, Kamnikar said. The 550 one- and two-bedroom apartments would put hundreds of additional cars on nearby roadways, he said.
At the Aug. 21 council meeting, council members agreed road improvements would be needed to accommodate increased traffic volume in the area, including extra turn lanes and signals.
Kamnikar said he would rather see the space become a residential development with a lower population density.
"Currently, Sawmill and Seldom Seen roads are not capable of accommodating the increased traffic," Kamnikar wrote in a mission statement accompanying the petition.
Residents also are concerned about the number of new residents, which likely would put some new students into Olentangy schools. That could put pressure on the district to build new schools sooner, they say -- and raise taxes to finance them.
That could hurt property values, Kamnikar said.
Councilman Brian Lorenz said he and other city officials are taking the concerns seriously and will weigh them in making a final decision.
He added the apartment complex could have a positive financial impact for the city. It would draw income tax from new residents, and new retail businesses that would be integrated into the development also would generate new revenue. That could help the city pay for much-needed capital improvements, Lorenz said Monday, Sept. 17.
At the Aug. 21 meeting, he also said the development would bring another housing option to the city and attract a new demographic of young professionals.
Council currently is awaiting a recommendation from the planning and zoning commission. A decision on how to proceed could be made as late as November.
Under the original plan, construction would start by spring 2013, and the apartments would be finished in three to four phases, with the first round opening in fall 2013 and the remainder sometime in 2014.
To view the petition, visit the website: chn.ge/Peevus.