Olentangy Valley News

Senior housing gets nod after builder's pledge

Developer will invest in sewer system to solve issues at site

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Powell City Council approved final plans for a senior living community last week after its developer pledged to expand sewer capacity at the site.

At its June 3 meeting, council voted unanimously to OK the final development plan for Spectrum Retirement Communities' proposed 130-unit senior apartment complex. It also approved the annexation of the proposed complex's five-acre site, located on Sawmill Parkway between North Hampton Drive and Presidential Parkway.

At council's last meeting May 20, City Manager Steve Lutz said "time was not on (Spectrum's) side" when it came to the site's sewer issues. Without a workable solution, the firm likely would have been forced to scrap the project due to annexation and real-estate contract deadlines.

Glen Dugger, an attorney representing Spectrum, said county officials told the firm earlier this spring "there was a fairly significant capacity problem and that there was no solution."

Dugger said the firm's engineers have been working with the Delaware County Engineer's Office over the past three months to find a solution for the site and other possible development sites in the area. He said Spectrum has agreed to make a possible seven-figure investment in the area's sewer system to solve capacity issues.

"They have agreed to construct a relief sewer that will provide sewer to this area ... which would benefit not just their property but some others," he said.

Officials from Spectrum, Delaware County and the city of Powell also had discussions on a "more global" solution to increase sewer capacity in the southwest portion of the county, Dugger said. Even if that plan does not come to fruition, the relief sewer would solve the problem at the Sawmill Parkway site.

"We're in a position to say that we have not one, but two plans to solve the sanitary sewer problem for this property, and maybe a much larger area," he said.

Lutz said the details haven't been finalized yet, but the Spectrum property likely would be included in the city's Sawmill Corridor TIF, or tax-increment financing, district. Property taxes collected on improvements at the Spectrum site likely would initially be used to reimburse the firm for its estimated $1.2 million investment in the sewer.

After the reimbursement, the property-tax funds would go into the city's TIF fund and could be used for public infrastructure improvements in the area.

Previously, Powell City Council members had raised concerns about the density of the project and the number of parking spaces at the site. Powell's Planning and Zoning Commission approved a variance in April that allowed Spectrum to build only 88 parking spots on the site instead of the 150 required by city code.

Spectrum officials said most residents of its facilities do not drive, and visitor traffic likely would not fill the lot, except on the busiest holidays.

Vice Mayor Brian Lorenz said the size of the parking lot still troubled him, as the site may not always be a senior community.

"I'll be honest, I'm still concerned if something happens to this (complex), and it changes hands and, let's just say, it becomes an apartment," he said.

Despite his concerns, he said he would vote for the development, which would allow members of the community to "age in place" in the city of Powell.

Councilman Jon Bennehoof said he still had concerns about the density of the project, but he was pleased with Spectrum's efforts to address the parking and sewer issues.

"I think that this is an appropriate facility for the community," he said.

Councilman Richard Cline said he approved of the project and the plan to include it in the TIF district.

"I think this is exactly what the TIF was designed to do, which is to encourage a development that will, over time, recoup its investment and then pay into the community," he said.

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