Westerville News & Public Opinion

Planners table proposed 73-acre housing project

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Questions about lot size and concerns expressed by the public have prompted the Westerville Planning Commission to table the potential rezoning of a large piece of land known as the Bingham Property.

The property sits off of Hanawalt Road between Main Street and County Line Road.

The 73-acre tract of land is in the process of being annexed by Westerville from Sharon Township and will automatically be zoned as a Rural Residential when it comes under city control.

Developer M/I Homes brought a plan for a 141-home single-family development called The Ravines to the commission at its Aug. 27 meeting. The planned development would also extend neighboring Metzger Park by 4.9 acres.

The developer was greeted by a room full of concerned citizens, and more than 10 nearby residents gave public comments critiquing the development.

The proposed rezoning would change the land from a Rural Residential to Planned Neighborhood District, allowing M/I to have smaller lots for each home, one of the major concerns of residents and planning commissioners alike.

Despite the plan's 24.5 acres of "open space," the smaller lots on such a valuable property in the city were a drawback that many in the room mentioned, and the consensus seemed to be an aim for fewer houses on larger properties.

"When you examine all of Westerville and the potential for high-end housing, there just isn't much opportunity for that higher-end, high-acreage housing ... and I'm not convinced this particular project gives us that," said David Berger, a commissioner member.

Both residents and commission members noted the lots in the neighborhoods surrounding the development were larger, making the downsized yards and properties look smaller.

"I look at the overall lot size based on what's around it," Commission Member Brian Szuch said. "The lot size is something that, to me, should be proportionate."

Another concern was the project's general design. Multiple residents and commissioners mentioned the bland home plans as a negative.

"I think you've got to think outside the M/I box," said Gerald Domanik, a commission member. "I'd like to see something a little more thought-out."

And, as has become a recurring theme throughout the city, traffic concerns on nearby Cleveland Avenue were on the minds of some.

"Everyone knows that Cleveland Avenue is a problem, even though it's not always a problem that comes from within Westerville," said Amy Koorn, a commission member.

"Adding 141 homes is a positive, but it also creates more of an issue," Koorn said.

After hearing the comments and concerns, an M/I representative asked the commission to table discussions until a later date.

The commission obliged with a 6-0 vote and will see the issue again before determining whether to give a recommendation to City Council.

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