Olentangy Valley News

Center at Powell Crossing

Traffic fears delay vote on planned development

Downtown project would feature 64 new residences, two retail buildings


Although members praised the project, Powell's Planning and Zoning Commission held off on approving plans for the Center at Powell Crossing last week because of traffic concerns.

The development would bring two retail buildings, four 16-unit residential buildings and four garages to a site at 147 W. Olentangy St.

At the Jan. 22 meeting, commission member Bill Little said he could not vote to approve the project because he had "significant concerns" about the traffic congestion that already exists in the area.

"We need to have an executable, comprehensive plan in place before we approve any substantial development on Olentangy Street between Murphy Parkway and Bennett Parkway," he said.

Little said the commission was tasked with denying projects that would add traffic to roads that already are too congested.

The commission approved a motion to table discussion of the project until its Feb. 12 meeting. Commission members and city staff agreed to discuss the development and traffic issues with Powell City Council and the city's administration before that meeting.

Two proposed city projects -- the extension of Murphy Parkway and the installation of a new queue-cutter traffic signal at the intersection of state Route 750 and the CSX railroad tracks -- could affect the Center at Powell Crossing.

The Murphy Parkway extension project, which the city will pay for with funds from a permanent-improvement levy that took effect in January, is expected to alleviate traffic in the area by creating a new way to bypass downtown Powell.

The proposed queue-cutter signal, which would sit just east of the Center at Powell Crossing, would be designed to prevent cars from stopping on the railroad tracks.

Commission member Joe Jester said he needed more information on how the development would be affected by the proposed signal and roadway extension before he could approve it.

"I think it's a great project," he said. "I'm obviously very concerned about the railroad and the traffic, and I want to follow that very closely."

Todd Faris, president of Columbus-based Faris Planning and Design, said the details of the project had been "well thought out" from a density and traffic standpoint.

"We came to you with a plan that was viable," he said. "We didn't reach out for the nine units per acre when we first came in."

Faris said the 64-unit complex could add an estimated nine to 11 students to the Olentangy Local School District.

Architect Chris Meyers said plans for the retail buildings could be tweaked to include drive-through lanes or other minor changes, if requested by the tenants.

"There's a few tenants that are being thought of, but I don't think any commitments (are final)," he said.

If the city approves the project, residents could start moving into the Center at Powell Crossing in two years, the project's developers said.