Olentangy Valley News

City Council

Complex for seniors raises concerns

Provisions for sewer service, parking space top the list of items to address

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Powell City Council members shared their concerns last week about parking, housing density and sewer capacity at a planned senior living community on Sawmill Parkway.

Spectrum Retirement Communities of Denver has proposed building a 130-unit independent living facility on more than 5 acres between Presidential Parkway and North Hampton Drive.

Council got its first look at the project's final development plan, approved last month by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, at its Wednesday, May 7, meeting.

Councilman Brian Lorenz said he was concerned about a variance that allowed the developer to create 88 parking spots instead of the 150 required under the city's zoning regulations.

"On Sunday, when the whole family's going to visit mom or dad, that parking lot is going to fill up pretty quick," he said.

Michael Longfellow, a vice president with Spectrum Retirement Communities, said the firm's existing communities have similar parking ratios and rarely encounter parking problems because visitor traffic is rarely heavy.

"Certainly during the week it may be a few (visitors)," he said. "Sundays it may be a dozen at a time."

On the busiest days for visits, such as Mother's Day, the firm often leases overflow parking from schools or businesses near its communities, Longfellow said.

Most residents are not expected to keep cars at the facility, which Longfellow said would employ 60 to 65 full-time-equivalent employees for a payroll of about $2 million.

Councilman Jon Bennehoof said Spectrum presented "a very nice-looking plan," but noted he had several concerns about the project.

Bennehoof said he wondered why council was examining the project before the developer and the county had finalized details for the site's sewer services. Sewer capacity would have to be increased in the area before the community can be built.

"I think that we've gotten out ahead of ourselves if we were to approve something that doesn't have a concrete solution identified," Bennehoof said.

Longfellow said the firm has worked closely with county officials to determine multiple options for increasing sewer capacity at the site. Debating which option is best has slowed the process down somewhat, he said.

"We will not even be here before you again for a second reading unless we have assurances from Delaware County that we will have sewer service," Longfellow said.

Bennehoof said he also was concerned about the density of the project.

Councilman Tom Counts wanted to know how many of the people moving into the development and using city services would actually be local residents.

Longfellow said based on the company's demographic research, Spectrum expected about half of the renters to come from the Powell area. The other half likely would be moving to the complex to be closer to their adult children, he said.

Longfellow said monthly rents in the community likely would be between $2,000 and $4,000. The community would have amenities such as restaurant-style dining, housekeeping and physical therapy, he said.

Council is expected to discuss the final development plan again at its Tuesday, May 20, meeting. The site's annexation to the city from Liberty Township also could be finalized at that meeting.

In other business May 7, the council heard the first reading of a pre-annexation agreement between the city and property owners across the street from the planned Spectrum Development on Sawmill Parkway.

The Ganzhorn Suites plans to build a 64-unit Alzheimer's disease care facility on a site on the west side of Sawmill Parkway. The site of the proposed development also is currently within Liberty Township.

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