Westerville News & Public Opinion

Planners relent on density concerns, OK apartments

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Laying aside concerns over density, the Westerville Planning Commission voted Sept. 28 to support a 504-unit apartment complex between County Line Road and Polaris Parkway, west of Alum Creek.

The rezoning and preliminary development plan for the property, which has been discussed before the Planning Commission for the last four months, now will move to Westerville City Council for public hearing and final approval.

The commission vote acts as a recommendation to council.

"The Ravines at Westar" are a joint venture between developers NP Limited and Trivium.

The development along the city's proposed Worthington Road Connector would feature a gated community of apartments with high-end appliances and details, attached garages, walking paths, lake views and a clubhouse with a large pool, media room, DVD library, work space, billiards room, tanning center and fitness area.

With 504 units on 54 acres, eight of which would be given to the city for parkland, maxes out at the city's 10 unit per acre maximum density.

Several Planning Commission members and members of the community raised concern about the density before the vote.

The developers did remove from the approved plan 16 units that would be built aside from the bulk of the community on a north-south roadway linking the Worthington Road Connector, between Old Worthington Road and Polaris Parkway, to County Line Road.

"I agree we do need some apartments in Westerville, and I think this, the entire development, is a good mixed-use development," said City Councilwoman Diane Fosselman, who sits on the commission. "What I'm concerned with is the size of this development more than the density."

Fosselman ultimately cast the lone no-vote against the preliminary development plan and rezoning.

Commission member Brian Szuch said he shares concerns about density but voted in favor of the plan and rezoning.

"When I look at how many buildings and how many buildings are multistory ... I cannot support that density on that ground layout," Szuch said.

Several neighbors to the proposed development voiced their concerns about the density of the plan, citing traffic concerns in an already congested area, as well as concerns about the impact on the environment.

"The word that continually came up again and again was density. It just becomes very, very frustrating because although there have been changes ... the density has never been addressed. It's just a non-issue," said Tim McKelvey.

"It's a major concern, and I would really appreciate it if all of the board members would really reflect on previous discussions. It's beautiful, but there's just too much of it."

Resident Joel Allen said the development simply doesn't fit in an area that already sees traffic backups during rush hour, at the corner of Polaris Parkway and Orion Place.

"If you're going to put in 500 units, you need to put it over where Altair is, where you have access to major roads, Cleveland Avenue and Polaris," Allen said. "You're trying to put a square peg in a round hole."

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