Olentangy Valley News

Another apartment proposal spurs more protests

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Residents spoke out against a second batch of apartments proposed for Liberty Township at a zoning meeting last week.

About 30 people sat in on a Sept. 19 meeting of the township's zoning commission to protest plans to build apartments in a lot west of Sawmill Parkway, just north of Home Road.

The application was temporarily tabled.

It's the second of two proposed apartment complexes that have stirred opposition from area residents and officials this month. The other, a complex that would include 550 townhouse apartments, is still under consideration by Powell City Council. It also would be located off Sawmill Parkway, just south of Seldom Seen Road.

Golf Village North LLC is the developer working on the Home Road project.

At the Sept. 19 meeting, the developer asked Liberty Township zoning officials to table a proposal to swap 139 condos for 360 apartments in the development plan after hearing concerns about the density of the proposed complex and its probable effect on Olentangy schools.

But the fate of those apartments is yet to be determined, said Liberty Township Zoning Inspector Holly Foust.

"A couple of the zoning board members said this is just more density than they are willing to support, but it was not voted on one way or another," she said.

Foust said the developer might tweak the plan before submitting it for reconsideration at a future zoning meeting. A representative of Golf Village North could not be reached for comment by press time.

Assistant Zoning Inspector Tracey Mullenhour said she doesn't know when the zoning commission will discuss the plan next.

"We don't have any timeline," she said. "It will be reconsidered whenever the applicant submits another plan."

"There definitely needs to be some tweaks," she added.

In the original plan submitted by Golf Village North, the first phase of construction would have gotten under way by October 2013.

Olentangy school district officials said the apartment complexes being considered this month by the township and the city would be costly for the district if they went forward as proposed.

Projections show an estimated 138 new students could be added to the district between the two, said district Business Manager Jeff Gordon.

It costs the district about $9,400 annually to educate one student, Gordon said. The unanticipated additions would cost the district up to $1.3 million per year, he said -- but new tax revenue generated by the developments would offset only an estimated $550,000 of that cost.

"That's a yearly cost, and what the property taxes don't cover, we have to go back to the voters for," Gordon said.

Both developments also are proposed to be located near some of the district's most-crowded schools, prompting fears of another round of redistricting.

Members of Powell City Council said they're taking the concerns seriously, and plans to construct the 550 townhouse apartments off Seldom Seen Road are far from finalized.

Council first voted to approve an initial development agreement with Lifestyle Real Estate Holdings Ltd. at its Aug. 21 meeting.

But no land has been annexed, and no final development plan has been approved. Currently, the city's planning and zoning committee is reviewing the plan and will bring a recommendation to council, probably sometime in November.

If approved, construction could start as early as spring 2013 and finish sometime in 2014.

But some residents hope to put a stop to the project altogether. Hundreds signed an online petition this month protesting the plan, and about 20 residents spoke out against it at a recent zoning meeting.

Many say they're worried the new residents will crowd roads in addition to schools. However, Mayor Richard Cline said concerns that the complex would require extra police surveillance are unfounded because the area is already patrolled.

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