Gahanna's planning commission reviewed plans for 42 senior apartments last week, deciding to have a workshop on the project to iron out the details.

Gahanna's planning commission reviewed plans for 42 senior apartments last week, deciding to have a workshop on the project to iron out the details.

"We feel the demand is there," said Dylan Collner, development analyst for the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, a nonprofit organization that develops housing for seniors.

Collner said that after researching the current demographics, the foundation learned Gahanna's population includes 1,440 income- and age-eligible residents.

The apartments will be offered to people age 55 and older who earn 50 percent or less of the area's median income. Collner said that means people moving into the one-bedroom apartments would have to earn $24,000 or less and those moving into the two-bedroom apartments would have to earn $27,450 or less.

The planning commission is reviewing the foundation's request to build the apartments on 2.368 acres at the northwest corner of Johnstown Road and Silver Lane because it requires a zoning change. The land currently is zoned for community commercial. The Buckeye foundation has a contract for the purchase of the property and has applied to change the zoning to Limited AR for multifamily residential housing.

Collner told the planning commission March 24 that the two-story apartment complex would include 16 one-bedroom units and 26 two-bedroom units.

The foundation has requested a variance on the number of parking spaces.

Bonnie Gard, Gahanna's zoning administrator, said the city's code requires two spaces per unit. The foundation is requesting to build 54 spaces -- 30 fewer than required. Collner said the foundation has built 14 other senior housing projects and learned that typically about half of the residents don't own vehicles.

"We're also trying to keep more green space on the site," he said.

Planning commission member Donald Shepherd asked if the plans could include restrictions on the types of building materials used. He said there's not a lot of vinyl siding in that area, yet plans show vinyl could be used.

Collner said restrictions could be included.

Shepherd also requested a tree survey so the planning commission could see how many trees actually could be saved when the project is built. He also suggested that the foundation look at another means of egress in case that is required by the Mifflin Township Fire Department.

Collner said the foundation has applied for federal assistance through the Federal Housing Tax Credit Program, which offers incentives for investors developing affordable housing. If the foundation does not receive funding in this cycle, he said, it will reapply in the next funding cycle.

In other business, the planning commission approved two other applications.

The first was for a conditional-use permit for Craig Pannier of Budget Truck Rental, 146 N. Hamilton Road. Pannier said he wants to be able to park up to eight rental trucks at the back of the property.

Barb Smith of the Gahanna Oaks condominiums, which are behind the truck parking lot, asked if panels could be added to contain the noise. Pannier said he has been in business for 15 years and has never received a complaint about noise.

The commission approved the request.

The other application was approved in a split vote. Suzanne Salisbury asked to build a fence on her property at 227 Glenhurst Court. She had hoped to connect to the existing fence on the property, which was built before she bought the lot.

She was required to go before planning commission because the existing fence is outside the required building line and she had to request a variance to add on to that fence line.

Salisbury said she would like to enclose her yard to protect her dog from cougars, which come into her yard from a neighboring wooded area.

Gard said the existing fence was built with a permit, which was approved by the city. She asked commission members to consider that when considering the variance request.

Shepherd said a smaller portion of the yard could be fenced in without going outside the building lines and encroaching on required setbacks. He said that because there is an alternative way to build the fence legally, he couldn't approve the request, saying it would set a bad precedent.

He, Kristen Rosan and commission chairman David Andrews voted against the variance. The other four members voted in favor of it so it passed.