Olentangy Valley News

Columbus expected to OK South Old State apartments

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Columbus Development Commission is primed to approve plans for two new apartment complexes on South Old State Road.

At its April 11 meeting, the commission will review plans for a 208-unit development on 14.5 acres east of South Old State Road, midway between Polaris Parkway and Powell Road; and a 44-unit development on four acres west of South Old State, just south of Polaris Parkway.

In recent weeks the 208-unit development has drawn complaints from neighbors about the density of the proposed project. Residents say it will add more traffic to a congested and accident-prone area.

The land was previously zoned to accommodate 6.5 units per acre. If the new plan is approved, that will be bumped up to 14.7 units per acre.

Some residents say that's much too high.

"There are a lot of concerns about the density, and we don't have enough capacity on the roads," said Gloria Humes, president of the Far North Columbus Coalition.

Residents have garnered support from the Delaware County Board of Commissioners. Last month all three commissioners drafted letters asking Columbus to keep the density of the development low and enforce a setback from the road greater than the planned 25 feet.

"In addition, the current residents of the area are concerned, as am I, about the additional volume of traffic this complex would create on Old State Road, which is already heavily congested," Commissioner Ken O'Brien wrote.

But Shannon Pine, management analyst for the city of Columbus Building and Zoning Services Department, said the proposed apartment complex shouldn't be defined by its density.

She said the city's development commission plans to approve the plan and doesn't agree with the complaints about the density or setback.

"In our eyes, density does not equal compatibility," she said. "A dense, high quality product can fit in nicely if they're providing high development standards and enough buffering and screening."

Last month the Far North Columbus Coalition unanimously opposed the proposed plan, citing the concerns of neighbors. And when it was reviewed by the development commission initially at a March 14 meeting it was tabled -- but for reasons unrelated to density or traffic.

It was tabled so developer Schottenstein Real Estate Group could rework a conflict in the construction plan that placed one of 18 apartment buildings in the complex too close to a drainage easement on South Old State Road.

Pine said that building must be moved before the plan can be approved. She said it's also possible that the developer could choose to eliminate the building from the plan, but it's not a requirement.

Pine said the 44-unit apartment complex planned to go in south of Polaris Parkway, proposed by developer Tom Bell Properties, also has drawn some complaints from residents concerned about traffic in the area.

The commission vote acts as a recommendation to Columbus City Council. Both projects will go before council for a final vote if they receive a recommendation from the development commission April 11.

The two developments aren't the only apartments set to go in along South Old State in close proximity to Polaris Parkway.

Kaufman Development is set to break ground on a 270-unit apartment project on seven acres, south of Polaris Parkway and east of South Old State Road.

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