Spokesmen for Metro Development LLC on Sept. 10 told Delaware City Council what could happen if council rejects ordinances to grant planned mixed-used overlay district rezoning for two apartment projects planned on land already zoned multi-family residential.

One of the developments, 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.

Existing zoning means both apartment complexes can be built if the rezonings are not approved, said Joe Thomas of Metro Development and local attorney Steve Cuckler, who accompanied Thomas.

But compared to the site designs planned if the rezonings are approved, the alternate plans would put apartments closer to U.S. Route 36/state Route 37, leave less open space, reduce buffering adjacent to bordering properties and place the buildings closer to neighbors, Thomas said.

The distinction between the two options, he said, is the overlay district would allow 3-story buildings that would require less space, compared to the 2-story buildings allowed by existing zoning.

If rezoned, the Seattle House plan calls for commercial property next to routes 36/37. If existing zoning is used, apartments would be on that location, which Thomas said, "I don't think anybody really wants."

Three council members criticized the Seattle House plans in particular at council's meeting Aug. 27, focusing mainly on overall aspects of the proposal.

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

Lisa 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 nor those living there.

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

Citizens spoke both for and against the plans Sept. 10 and Aug. 27.

Among other concerns, opponents criticized the 3-story building height and increased traffic.

They also criticized Metro Development's suggestion the apartments will attract young professionals for whom housing is limited in the city.

Those supporting the project said the apartments will attract young professionals and improve local economic development.

Proponents included Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce President Holly Quaine, who spoke Aug. 27.

The rezoning ordinances Sept. 10 were scheduled for third reading, when council typically votes on such items. But council agreed with Councilman Kent Shafer, who said the vote should be delayed because Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle could not attend the meeting.

Also up for third reading were companion ordinances for each project, to grant conditional use permits allowing the overlay districts, and approving the preliminary development plans.

After the Sept. 10 meeting, Cuckler said the Seattle House site "has been zoned for multi-family for decades and by working with (the city zoning) staff, we came up with a better product than what the existing zoning allows.

"The business community supports these, they are necessary to attract new good paying jobs into Delaware, and my client is contributing over $5 million in new roads and other city fees prior to opening," he added.

Council's next regular meeting will be Oct. 8.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNEWS