It's back to the drawing board for a project to build apartments at Taylor Road and East Main Street.

The question now is whether Metro Development still can have a project it considers economically viable if it cuts the number of units from 240 to 192.

Reynoldsburg City Council's public service and transportation committee rejected Metro Development's latest design for a 240-unit complex July 9 and suggested the developer go back to the city's planning and zoning commission with a proposal for a smaller project. Councilwoman Kristin Bryant suggested 190 units but Joe Thomas from Metro Development said 192 would work better.

The smaller number would cut the project's density from 9.88 units per acre to 7.9 units per acre -- still higher than the city code limit of five units per acre in a planned neighborhood development.

Thomas said he would talk to the sellers of the property and to all the partners involved in the project.

"It's going to take some time to work through a scenario that will be successful or not successful," he said. "Our company will have to decide if it is financially feasible to make it sustainable with that size."

Even if Metro Development proceeds with a smaller project, it still would need approval of a rezoning change for the 24-acre parcel from community commerce and multiple-family residence to a planned neighborhood development zone.

And that's been the holdup for months.

Neighbors have raised concerns about density and traffic and several City Council members have indicated any decision about what to do with the property should wait until a comprehensive master development and business plan for Reynoldsburg is completed.

The planning commission denied Metro's design earlier this year, which called for two- and three-story apartment buildings to be built at 9366 to 9370 Taylor Road Southwest.

The commission approved a revised plan June 7, after Metro agreed to construct only two-story buildings and add a southbound turning lane at Taylor and East Main Street to ease traffic concerns.

The plan cannot go forward, however, without full council approval of the rezoning change.

Neighbors who oppose the project were hoping for a final vote by the full council July 9, following council committee meetings.

"That amount of density will be a big towering wall for our neighborhood," resident Aaron Young said. "We need to get our big-boy pants on and vote on this."

Linda Grimes said the density of the plan is a problem.

"The sheer numbers of people in that small space would just be too much," she said.

Chuck Stanley said extra traffic is his biggest concern.

"You could have two cars for each of the 240 apartments," he said. "I don't know how we are going to handle 500 more cars going out on Taylor Road."

Councilman Brett Luzader agreed the project is too dense for the property. He made a motion July 9 to send the ordinance on for a full council vote "with a recommendation to reject" the zoning change.

Councilman Caleb Skinner voted with Luzader, but Bryant and Stacie Baker voted against the motion. Council President Doug Joseph broke the tie with his "nay" vote, preventing the ordinance once again from going to a full council vote.

Because they are not members of the public service committee, Barth Cotner, Marshall Spalding and Mel Clemens did not vote on the motion.

Baker voted with Bryant and Skinner to send the developer back to the planning commission; Luzader cast the only "nay" vote.

Baker had a caveat, however.

"I don't want to hear later that we have not been fair. This is it -- this is the last time," he said.

Clemens said council members need to make a decision about the rezoning request.

"I feel personally that we're letting the public down by not doing our job one way or the other," he said.

"I don't think sending it back to the planning commission is going to do a thing, really, other than send it back to us again and going through the same process. Call it to a vote -- I don't know what the holdup is."

Joseph disagreed.

"I think we owe it to everyone involved to see if we can come up with a workable solution for this piece of property, because it's not going to go away," he said.

"I think the best decision is to make the planning commission take another look at it and then we can take another look at it ourselves," he said. "That's why we're here. We're not here because our job is easy."

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