Delaware City Council continues to mull a proposed Houk Road apartment complex whose density and other aspects have irked its potential neighbors.

Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, May 21, on a revised zoning-text amendment for MedRock LLC's plan for a 180-unit apartment complex just north of Delaware's YMCA.

The session also will include a rare fifth reading of an ordinance, a legislative action that typically receives only three readings.

That's because council April 9 granted the developer's request to pull the zoning-text amendment -- and an accompanying revised development plan -- from council's agenda.

MedRock principal Ronald Sabatino and his attorney, Jeffrey M. Lewis, wanted to restart the approval process by returning the legislation to the city planning commission to address concerns raised by residents.

As a result, the planning commission twice recommended the plan not be approved.

The commission rejected the plan March 7; council then abandoned its consideration of the plan April 9; the planning commission rejected the plan again May 2; and council resumed deliberations May 14.

Ten residents spoke before the planning commission May 2.

Their objections to MedRock's plan included complaints about its density and the traffic it would generate.

At council's April 9 meeting, 12 residents criticized the plan, with most objecting to its high density.

They also cited a likelihood of increased traffic that could threaten children's safety and a desire for landscaping and plants that would screen the apartments from view.

At the May 2 meeting, Sabatino said MedRock has responded to "each legitimate comment" made by residents who protested the plan.

Actions included removing a planned trash bin, increasing mounding to screen the view of the complex and planting more than 100 trees.

Rob Vogt of Vogt Strategic Insights, Columbus, and Tamara Potts of T&R Properties, Dublin, during the May 2 meeting defended MedRock's planned 180 units.

Vogt said his company conducts specific market-feasibility studies, and in February determined that demand for multifamily units exceeds supply in Delaware.

Of the city's multifamily units, he said, 98 percent are occupied.

Potts said MedRock proposes a luxury apartment community and high-end renters demand amenities.

She said the cost of the project's amenities will average $8,700 per unit.

"There's a certain threshold of a size of a property to be able ... to not only cover those costs but also to provide an acceptable return to the investor," she said.

T&R Properties' LinkedIn page shows Sabatino founded the company in 1983.

Potts also called the project Flats on Houk, an apparent name change. City documents have referred it only as the Willowbrook Farm tract.

The proposed zoning-text ordinance before council notes MedRock's plan to achieve 180 units involves transferring potential units from an undeveloped and nearby "Area 4" owned by the company.

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