Westerville City Council voted down a developer's plan to construct 25 new houses on a 7.2-acre lot at 419 and 433 Cherrington Road.
Council on a vote of 6-1 rejected the proposal from Ryan Homes at its Feb. 4 meeting. Ryan sought to rezone the tract from Residential to Planned Neighborhood District to allow for the construction of large homes, which would be priced in the $300,000s, on relatively small lots.
The plan was passed on to council from the Westerville Planning Commission with a recommendation to approve. The Planning Commission voted 5-2 to support the plan in November.
Throughout the council and Planning Commission process, residents of neighboring developments voiced their concerns about the proposal, which centered on how the development could affect stormwater runoff and drainage in an area known for peat bogs and sinking homes.
More than a dozen residents spoke against the proposal on those grounds at the council meeting Feb. 4.
However, council members opposing the plan said their lack of support was due to the large amount of homes pushed into a small area on the property, which led to a high number of requests for variances from setback regulations.
If the property were zoned under residential standards, it would only be allowed to have about 20 homes.
Council members largely said they were in favor of the quality of homes proposed on the site by Ryan Homes, as well as the rezoning of the property to Planned Neighborhood District.
The concerns came about how the homes were configured on the preliminary development plan that accompanied the rezoning request.
"For this property, I do believe (Planned Neighborhood District) is more appropriate," said Councilman Mike Heyeck. "However, (Planned Neighborhood District) requires a lot of thresholds of quality, and the issue of density requires quality, requires amenities, and frankly, I don't see it in this property. I believe we have 25 homes on a very small parcel that I don't believe can fit on this property."
Councilman Larry Jenkins agreed, saying the small lots don't fit with what Westerville typically tries to accomplish with new developments.
"We seem to be pushing these properties in maximum lot coverage," Jenkins said. "That's been a standard in Westerville: That we try to preserve so that we aren't bigger houses on smaller lots. We try to preserve the green space."
Council Chairman Craig Treneff summed up council's concerns, saying that while Planned Neighborhood District zoning would work well on the site, the Ryan Homes proposal was problematic.
"This development makes certain changes as a planned development. It compresses the nature of the development from an (Residential zoning) standard," Treneff said. "It's really the specifics of this plan that create the difficulty."