Jefferson Township trustees have approved a proposed M/I Homes development, making way for 372 single-family homes at what’s being called the Farms at Jefferson.
Trustees on May 14 unanimously approved the Jefferson Township Zoning Commission’s recommendation that 374 acres be rezoned from planned residential district, restricted suburban residential and countryside residential district to planned suburban residential district.
Trustees Claire Yoder, Rich Courter and Mike Rowan voted for the development after expressing concerns earlier this month, particularly regarding vinyl.
The development is bisected by Clark State Road and bounded by Dixon Road to the east and Babbitt Road to the west.
Zoning Administrator Charles McCroskey said the development includes subareas.
The north area shows 114 lots (subarea 1) with a minimum lot size of 9,580 square feet for ranch and 2-story single-family homes.
The south subarea shows 258 lots with a minimum lot size of 7,290 square feet for ranch and 2-story single-family homes, a community pool and a clubhouse.
Subarea 3, the development’s southern portion, provides 84.1 acres of open space and parkland off Morse Road.
McCroskey said the development would be built 27 to 51 lots at a time in nine phases, with the first built within six months of the plan’s approval.
David Hodge, an attorney representing M/I Homes, said much research and soul searching have been done in the past week regarding materials.
The board and M/I representatives had spent much of the May 7 meeting discussing natural materials versus vinyl siding for the homes.
Hodge said he has learned it’s nearly impossible in today’s market to build a home for $350,000 because of the cost of the ground, materials, permits, labor and fees.
“The aim has always been to hit the $350,000 price point for a portion of this subdivision, to accommodate young families and to accommodate folks who will work at the New Albany (International) Business Park, among many others,” he said. “This project has always been about compromise on both sides of the table.”
Hodge said M/I’s compromise is that the north lots would be all natural materials.
On the south lots, he said, buyers would be encouraged to use natural materials, but vinyl must remain available as an option.
The trustees approved the development subject to various modifications.
• The front elevation of a model home south of Clark State Road must contain an element of masonry.
• Fencing references on the east property must be black.
• The development text will require the developer to submit information on two existing homes on the west property and require the developer to bear the cost if the trustees decide those homes should be removed.
• No parking will be permitted on the hydrant side of the subdivision streets.
Courter said the trustees are trying to get the best deal for Jefferson Township.
“We’re adding significant trees and a large setback on Clark State Road,” he said. “I’m not willing to throw the dice that Pataskala wouldn’t annex it. There’s a lot of land could be lost.”
Yoder said the trustees have to walk a tightrope of meeting the challenge of development and keeping the township’s rural character.
“I’m so excited about the trees,” she said. “I hope we can work through this and do something that continues to make Jefferson Township an exceptional place to live.”
Rowan said he realizes many residents aren’t thrilled about this subdivision and aspects of it.
“I feel your pain,” he said. “In my opinion, the township can’t afford to lose land to the east.
“I fight every fight as hard as I can,” Rowan said. “When it comes down to when to compromise and when to try to win the war than every battle, I’m going to try to win the war. ... This isn’t an easy thing to do, but sometimes the right thing to do isn’t easy.”
Havens Court resident Ann Sullivan said she has great respect for M/I Homes. She said she sells their homes in her job as a real-estate agent.
“I think we need to scale back and not have as many homes on the property,” she said. “I think cramming all those homes in that little space will cause severe consequences to the township. It scares me the density that will happen there.”
Hodge said the development is 0.99 home per acre overall and that 265.4 acres of new open space would be created, most of it owned by Jefferson Township.
He said 1,321 trees would be planted and a 600-foot setback corridor created along Clark State Road.
“A tunnel will also be installed under Clark State Road, connecting these neighborhoods by asphalt path into the community center and swimming pool,” Hodge said. “It’s a great development.”
He said the entire development is estimated to be built in four to five years.