Opinions on two planned apartment projects were split Aug. 27, from both Delaware City Council members and residents.

Both developments are proposed by Metro Development LLC.

One, called Seattle House Apartments, would have 240 units on about 24.2 acres north of U.S. Route 36/state Route 37, and south of Bowtown Road just east of the Chesrown Auto storage lot.

The second, called Highpoint Place Apartments, would have 160 units on 16.7 acres, north of Bowtown Road and just west of Village Gate Apartments.

The size of the Seattle House Apartments -- 678 square feet for a single bedroom and 950 feet for two bedrooms -- and the height of its three-story buildings were central talking points among city leaders.

The plans for Highpoint Place spurred concern about the narrow width of Bowtown Road at the site.

City Planning Director David Efland said the city planning commission rejected the Highpoint Place plan on a split vote, largely because of that issue. As a result, he said, it will take five affirmative council votes to overrule the planning commission.

A point of debate regarding both proposals is whether they would attract more young professionals to the city.

Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce President Holly Quaine told council it's the chamber's position they will.

She said the city needs to attract commercial development, and businesses need an ample work force and available housing if they locate in the city.

One objection to the proposals was the increased traffic they would create. Quaine told council the city's residents and government have created a place where people want to live, and the city shouldn't let "traffic close the doors to the city. ... We need to find solutions to bring them here, not reasons not to bring them here."

Council members George Hellinger, Lisa Keller and Chris Jones had a number of objections with Seattle House in particular.

Hellinger said the plan calls for less natural building material than the city mandates, and the small apartment sizes are a negative.

"I don't see where we're getting anything" from the proposal, he said.

Keller agreed, criticizing the apartment sizes and the proposed building height of 42 feet, which would exceed the city's limit of 35 feet for such a plan at the site. She said Metro's plan would not benefit the city or those living there.

Jones agreed he saw no benefit for the city in the plan and cited increased traffic as a problem.

Joe Thomas of Metro Development said his company has conducted market research that confirms demand for the apartment sizes proposed at Seattle House. He said Metro has been building similar-sized units in recent years in the Olentangy, Hilliard and Westerville school districts.

The apartments' sizes also appeal to older empty nesters, he said.

Local attorney Steve Cuckler, who accompanied Thomas, said Seattle House will aid local infrastructure because it will extend the nearby Biltmore Drive to the east, at Metro's expense.

Resident Scott Cubberly told council Seattle House will attract young professionals who seek such housing.

It also will help improve economic development in that area, he said.

Jim Gill, owner of Chesrown Chevy Buick GMC, agreed. He said Delaware lacks affordable housing for a number of his employees.

Offering dissenting views were residents David Gordon and Ed Snodgrass, who own Delaware Commerce Park near the Highpoint Place site.

Gordon said he didn't know where such "young professionals" would be coming from.

Keller asked what position the city will face in 20 years if the projects are built, and small apartments go out of fashion.

Council gave second readings to ordinances to rezone the Seattle House site from multifamily residential and community business district to planned mixed-use overlay district, and rezone the Highpoint Place site from multifamily residential to planned mixed-use overlay district.

Also given second readings were companion ordinances for each proposal, to grant conditional-use permits allowing the overlay districts, and approving the preliminary development plans.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews