Plans for a new housing development and commercial property on Canal Winchester's north side got the go-ahead from Canal Winchester City Council, despite continued objections from nearby residents.
The proposed Turning Stone development has drawn opposition from neighbors who raised concerns about increased traffic and school enrollment numbers.
The Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 July 10 in favor of a preliminary plan and rezoning for 84 single-family homes on 15.8 acres plus a 1.75-acre commercial property.
However, plans before the commission that do not receive four yes votes are forwarded to City Council with a recommendation for denial.
The Turning Stone development, is bordered by U.S. Route 33, High Street and Carriage Place and the Winchester and Lombardy Heights subdivision.
Council was expected to vote on the project Oct. 2, but developers pulled the plan from the agenda in order to make changes, addressing concerns about attracting more families with children.
They agreed to limit lofts to 40 percent of the homes and use natural materials on the front of the duplexes.
Ahead of the 5-1 vote Oct. 16, residents continued to voice concerns about traffic congestion in the area.
"We have nice wide streets and homes with yards where kids have a place to play," said Bobby White, who lives on Carriage Place. "They want to put 84 homes on this small cornfield.
"Years ago, 27 homes were too small for that. Now these people want to put in 84 homes."
Councilman Will Bennett cast the lone no vote, while Bob Clark, Steve Donahue, Bruce Jarvis, Bobbie Mershon and Mike Walker approved the rezoning request.
The developer of the project, Kentucky-based Grand Communities/Fischer Development Co. is working with Damon Pfeifer, who owns the land, and Wilcox Communities.
Wilcox owns the Mews at Pinnacle Club in Grove City and operates rental properties in Blacklick, Lancaster and Reynoldsburg.
Plans call for patio homes no smaller than 1,200 square feet for a ranch and no smaller than 2,000 square feet for a ranch with a loft.
Developers expect active baby boomers and young professionals to be the primary buyers.
The starting price would be $170,000, with an average price at $200,000. There will be limited outside maintenance and a homeowners association.
Michael Stobart of Columbus Street told City Council members they were setting a precedent by allowing too many units per acre.
"We have very limited standards to begin with, and we're going to take those standards and throw them away," he said.
"They're asking for variances across the board. The concern is the next planned development that comes in is going to ask for five or six or eight units per acre. What's going to be our comeback as a city?"
According to City Development Director Lucas Haire, the unique character of the land allows for variances from the zoning code. He noted that the residential density varies for other residential developments in the city.
In Canal Village, he said, density is 5.36 units per acre. In Eagle Ridge, it's 5.94 units per acre and at Charleston Lake, density is 5.15 units per acre.
Turning Stone's density is 5.48 units per acre, Haire said.