The Westerville Planning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning of a 6.7-acre site to allow for a new housing development.
The approval Nov. 25 came with a warning from the commission to the developers, however, to work with neighbors to clear up concerns about engineering and water runoff in an area already prone to sinking homes, collapsing basements and damp grounds.
With the 5-2 vote from the commission, the request to rezone the parcel at 433 Cherrington Road from R-1 Single-Family Residential to Planned Neighborhood District will go before Westerville City Council for final approval.
The plan, put forth by John C. Wicks, calls for the construction of 25 homes on a newly built roadway south of Cherrington Road, east of Glenacre Drive.
The development would feature homes priced from $260,000 to $300,000, on smaller lots than would be allowed in a typical single-family residential zone. The site also would feature a retention pond surrounded by walking paths.
Commission members did discuss whether a Planned Neighborhood District was necessary to the project, or just a request that would allow the developer to build more homes than would typically be allowed on the site.
Developers disputed that, saying planned-neighborhood zoning would allow them to ignore typical single-family home setbacks and instead configure homes based on how best to conserve trees on the wooded lot and cushion surrounding homes from the new development.
Planned Neighborhood Districts often include common amenities for homeowners, such as swimming pools, park areas and clubhouses.
"I would hope that the (Planned Neighborhood District) would be considered a tool," said Gary Smith of G2 Planning and Design, speaking on behalf of the developer.
Neighbors of the proposed development also questioned whether the city should forego typical R-1 single-family zoning standards for the site.
"This just doesn't seem to fit in," said Linda Bluvstein. "It's just a lot of little houses all jammed together with very little green space."
Thomas Hill agreed.
"R-1 rules and regulations were established for a reason, and I think they should continue," Hill said.
One of the biggest concerns outlined by neighbors is what would happen to stormwater runoff from the site.
Residents of the Lakeside Forest and Lakeside Village developments, which border the site to the south, were especially concerned about the impact that runoff could have on the lake within their developments.
"If it's not done properly, it will have a negative impact on property value on all sides," said John Conklin.
Commission member Gerald Domanik said he believes many of the residents' concerns would be addressed if the developer met with neighbors to talk further about the plan and show how issues such as poor soil and stormwater will be dealt with.
Having those neighbors support the development before it moves on to Westerville City Council for approval is important, Domanik said.
"I think you need to get out there and talk to some people," he said. "They've got to buy in on it."