Pickerington Times-Sun

OhioHealth medical campus

Board OK with less parking, taller building

Pickerington zoning board approves pair of variances as OhioHealth prepares to build

By MICHAEL HAYES
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OhioHealth's Pickerington Medical Campus moved a couple of steps closer to its goal of commencing construction on its $42 million outpatient medical campus as two variance requests were approved July 25.

Pickerington's Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-0 to approve OhioHealth's variance applications for building height and parking.

The first building to be constructed on the 60-acre site is an ambulatory care center. OhioHealth intends for that building to reach a maximum height of 67.25 feet.

Pickerington's Zoning Code mandates the maximum height for a hospital in the suburban office district be no higher than 40 feet.

Pickerington Development Services Director Joe Henderson said the proposed building would be set back off Refugee Road far enough that the height won't be too noticeable.

"It will be 325 feet back from Refugee Road. It's pretty far back off the road," said Henderson, who added passing cars on Refugee Road will be shielded by the site's "heavily treed parking lot" as well.

He said because of the size of the project, which initially will call for two buildings to be constructed with 150,000 total square footage, the 67.25-foot height of the first building "is appropriate for this development."

OhioHealth also asked for significantly less parking on the Pickerington campus than what is required by Pickerington's zoning code.

The city would require 1,093 spaces for the two buildings combined, while OhioHealth requested 564 parking spaces.

Under its zoning code, Pickerington mandates 450 parking spaces for the proposed 47,300 medical office building and 643 spaces for the 96,500-square-feet ambulatory care center.

Todd Sloan, executive vice president of the Daimler Group, OhioHealth's architectural design firm for the Pickerington campus, said the project doesn't need so much parking.

"When we did the calculations for parking spaces, we were surprised that (Pickerington) is 40 percent higher than any other community we came across," said Sloan.

He said similar medical campuses in Dublin and Westerville have been successful without such a large parking configuration.

"We're bringing health care to the community. The last thing we want to do is make things difficult if we're trying to enhance that experience," said Sloan.

He told the board of zoning appeals that additional parking will be available on the site if the need arises in the future.

"We have an area (reserved) for 80 spaces as a safety valve as we develop," said Sloan.

"The parking allocated for the project is more than adequate in the internal design. If trends change, we can add additional parking," said Sloan.

As of Monday, Aug. 5, a deal between the city of Pickerington and OhioHealth was in the process of being reached with regard to improvements on Refugee Road.

A special meeting of City Council was called Friday, Aug. 2, during which council voted 4-2 to approve a draft ordinance that included a "letter of interest."

"The agreement mainly centers on Refugee Road improvements from (state Route) 256 to the OhioHealth site based upon a yet-to-be-finalized traffic study with agreed upon results by OhioHealth traffic engineers and city engineers," said City Manager Bill Vance.

"A tax-increment financing (agreement) is proposed but would require (Pickerington) school board approval," said Vance.

Council was expected to vote on the proposed TIF at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 6. If approved, OhioHealth officials plan to break ground on the first phase of development as soon as possible.

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