Westerville City Council heard two pieces of legislation at itsa Oct. 16 meeting that would allow for the development of a 504-unit apartment complex between County Line Road and Polaris Parkway west of Alum Creek.
The first piece of legislation called for the annexation of 5.6 acres from Orange Township at the north end of Taylor Way.
The second calls for rezoning 27.4 acres from Rural Residential to Planned Development. That land would be added to a portion of 99 acres owned by another developer, to allow for the construction of the apartment complex on 54 acres, eight of which would be given to the city as parkland.
The proposed complex is called The Ravines at Westar and is a joint development between the partnerships NP Limited and Trivium.
City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing, and a vote, on the legislation at its Nov. 6 meeting.
The Westerville Planning Commission set aside members' concerns over the 10-unit-per-acre density of the site to recommend that council approve the rezoning at its Sept. 26 meeting.
Councilwoman Diane Fosselman, who sits on the Planning Commission as council's representative, cast the lone no-vote in that decision, citing the high density as the reason.
Fosselman brought up those concerns once again at the Oct. 16 council meeting, pointing out the Planned District zoning allows for density of 5 units per net acre or 8 units per acre with an allowance from the city.
In this case, the developer's request for 10 units per acre is for gross acres, including the 8 acres being given to the city for a park.
Council Chairman Mike Heyeck said he doesn't believe the designs presented by the developers are extraordinary enough to warrant the granting of a density "bonus" by the city.
"I'm still looking for a reason to give the bonus density. I haven't found it yet. That's where my head's at," Heyeck said.
Councilwoman Jenifer French said she would have a hard time allowing such a large deviation from city standards for density.
"Given what our code calls for now, I don't know that I'm personally comfortable with committing to a number in excess of that, regardless of the architecture," French said.
Councilman Larry Jenkins also weighed in on the project's proposed density, but only to say that he was not concerned by it.
Residents of nearby properties also addressed council about their concerns over the development's density and lack of design.
"It's not upscale architecture. This is wedding-cake architecture. It's still a vanilla box that they're just decorating. ... There are no private entrances; there are no enclosed courtyards; there are no covered decks. The windows are all the same regardless of the direction of the sunlight," said resident Ron Dixon. "They're like high-rise apartment buildings lying on their sides, and they're just trying to decorate them."
Resident Joel Allen agreed.
"This project has gotten out of hand," Allen said. "This is an ill-conceived project and is the result of the city being over-involved in the combined planning of the multifamily on the Zumstein property and the Taylor property, forcing more apartments to justify more tax moneys to hopefully help the city to recover their money on the (associated Worthington Road extension) project."