A Newark company wants to rezone more than 11 acres along Refugee Road Southwest from agriculture to family residence district so an assisted-living facility can be built there.

A Newark company wants to rezone more than 11 acres along Refugee Road Southwest from agriculture to family residence district so an assisted-living facility can be built there.

Reynoldsburg City Council forwarded the request to the city's planning commission after a public hearing Monday, Dec. 7, but not before raising questions about whether the proposed project will be the one actually built if the rezoning is approved.

Newark-based McClain Development Inc. wants to build a 121-bed facility on 11.2 acres near the intersection of Old Summit and Refugee roads. The site is bordered by Pataskala to the west and Etna Township to the east. According to its website, the company has more than 25 years of experience in designing, building and managing assisted-living communities. In central Ohio, McClain Development Inc. operates assisted-living facilities in Newark, Heath, Lewis Center and Lancaster.

Applicant Roger McClain said the Reynoldsburg project would translate into 30 to 40 full-time jobs in its first year of operation and could possibly grow to 60 full-time positions within two years. About 20 part-time employees also would be hired, he said.

McClain said the payroll for the facility has yet to be determined.

"Half of them are nursing wages, doctor wages, so you have your executive wages there. Then you have the 20 part time around the $12-per-hour range," he said.

The developer also has committed to connecting to Reynoldsburg's water and sewer services. A traffic study also showed no need for changes to roads, traffic lights or signs in the vicinity, McClain said.

He said most of the facility's residents would require either medical or physical care, which greatly limits how much outgoing traffic would be produced. At another of the company's locations, McClain said, only about five of 70 residents drive vehicles and the facility received about five deliveries per week.

Reynoldsburg Planning Administrator Eric Snowden said a second traffic study could be requested once the application makes its way to the city's Board of Zoning and Building Appeals.

Councilman Chris Long said residents have asked him about the process of zoning changes. He said previous development projects in the city have appeared to be bait-and-switch proposals, where the reviewed project is dropped once zoning changes are approved and a new project emerges to surprise the public.

"I intend on introducing an amendment to this zoning change that if this project doesn't become a multiple-family residence, (the land) immediately reverts to its former use," Long said.

Councilman Barth Cotner echoed Long's comments and wanted city staff members to confirm the community would not be surprised by an alternate project if the zoning change were approved.

"If the project is approved by City Council, it's the one and only project that could be built on this site," Snowden said.

Snowden said he understands the concerns and said the city is doubling down on safety measures to prevent developers from switching projects after the fact. He said the requested zoning change for the McClain project includes language that specifies if the project falls through, the land would return to agriculture use.