Olentangy Valley News

Apartments held up again as residents' fight continues


Powell City Council's discussion of a controversial apartment project near the city's downtown area was tabled last week for the third time this year.

City Manager Steve Lutz told council at its June 3 meeting that the developer of the Center at Powell Crossing and city officials were still in talks about potential traffic and safety improvements near the site.

Lutz said the talks centered around whether improvements at the proposed apartment complex could coincide with a project to install a new traffic signal at nearby railroad tracks.

"We're working to see if there's a way to coordinate those two projects simultaneously," he said.

Council voted unanimously to table consideration of the apartments' final development plan and is scheduled to consider the plan again at its meeting Tuesday, June 17.

Developers previously requested a discussion of the final development plan for the 64-unit, mixed-use apartment complex be tabled at council's March 18 and May 20 meetings to allow for completion of a traffic study. Officials said the study would include suggestions on how to alleviate traffic from the Four Corners intersection to the development.

The complex, which also would feature two commercial buildings, would sit at 147 W. Olentangy St., just west of the CSX railroad tracks. City officials currently are in discussions with the Ohio Rail Development Commission about a project to install a queue-cutter traffic signal at the tracks.

The signal would display a red light to drivers when space begins to run out on the other side of the tracks, preventing cars from getting caught on the rails.

Although the discussion of the final development plan was tabled, council allowed residents to comment on the proposed apartments. As in previous meetings, the residents who spoke were united in their opposition to the project.

Ryan Prestel, who lives just south of the proposed development, said he was less concerned about the traffic and more concerned about removal of trees from the site. He said the project could disturb the habitat of a wealth of local wildlife.

"We're going to see a lot of deer that are probably going to end up in our neighborhoods," he said.

Bernard Palchick said he did not think an apartment complex located near railroad tracks would attract people who would improve the community.

"The location of this apartment complex not only creates a traffic hazard, in some instances, but it also creates a kind of apartment environment that is not going to attract young professionals," he said. "It is not going to attract empty-nesters. It is going to attract, basically, a transient population."

Palchick said city officials should focus on projects that attract families, professionals and seniors.