Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission members are expected to reconsider a proposal for the Hill Farm residential development Thursday, Feb. 8.

The developer, M/I Homes, is proposing the construction of 229 single-family residences on 207 acres on the north side of Scioto Darby Road, west of Elliott Road and east of Langton Road. It is next door to the Sid Griffith Equestrian Center at 7380 Scioto Darby Road in Brown Township; the riding academy also is on the north side of Scioto Darby and the new development would run along its eastern property line.

Go to ThisWeekNEWS.com/Hilliard after 7 p.m. Feb. 8 to learn how the commission voted on the development's plans and rezoning application.

Hill Farm would be a mix of mostly three- and four-bedroom single-family residences, according to Tom Hart, an attorney representing M/I Homes.

At the suggestion of commission members, Hart requested during the Jan. 11 meeting that the rezoning application be postponed until Feb. 8.

Mayor Don Schonhardt, who is a member of the commission, said members want a collector road in the subdivision to be relocated, but they are not concerned about the proposed residential density of Hill Farm, which is about 1.1 units per acre.

Hill Farm is within the Hilliard Conservation District and subject to the terms of the Big Darby Accord, which carries a recommendation of 1 unit per acre but can be slightly greater if developers meet or exceed other standards, Schonhardt said. In this instance, he said in January, the higher density is offset because open space is equal to almost 70 percent of the parcel.

The residences would not be spread evenly on the parcel but rather grouped in a "cluster development," Hart said, to create the open space. According to ThisWeek's calculations, using the estimated percentage of open space and the 229 planned houses, the development could have three to four houses per acre designated for residential use, if all lots were a similar size.

Residents' reactions

Although city officials have not expressed concerns about the density, some neighbors weren't sure, and many other residents shared opinions about the development on the ThisWeek Hilliard Facebook page.

Robert "Butch" Taylor, who lives on Langton Road, told ThisWeek after the Jan. 11 meeting that his residence is on almost 10 acres.

"We are all on larger lots (and) also concerned about flooding," he said.

Hart said development proposals are required to include stormwater management plans that prevent runoff from new developments.

Shawnee Thomas, who lives in the Beacon neighborhood and responded via Facebook, said "all the building needs to stop" because "our roadways can't handle all this new growth ... and our schools are suffering."

Resident Tania Bermudez, who also responded via Facebook, said traffic in the city is "ridiculous," especially on Cemetery Road and Scioto Darby Road.

Meanwhile, Leigh Ann Griffith, who owns the Sid Griffith Equestrian Center with her husband, said the adjacent development caused a different concern after original documents mistakenly listed the riding academy's address as the proposed development's.

"We are not part of this development and have never been approached to sell," Griffith said.

She said she plans to attend the Feb. 8 meeting and looks forward to co-existing with the new development.

Local impact

As for the collector road, Hart said, he believes the application has been modified to meet the approval of the commission.

"The new road hugs the western property rather than running through the middle of the property," he said.

A new "T" intersection would be built at the north end of the land, and it could be made into a roundabout and provide future connections to the north, Hart said.

The changes are meant to provide greater connectivity and the beginnings of a north-south connector road west of Elliott Road, he said.

A traffic study by the Franklin County Engineer's Office and the city of Hilliard was completed as part of a rezoning application, Hart said.

The 207 acres would be rezoned from rural residential to the Hilliard Conservation District designation, said city planner John Talentino.

The staff report includes a positive recommendation to the planning and zoning commission, Talentino said, but Hilliard City Council would have to issue final approval of the rezoning application.

The application includes a requirement, based on the traffic study, that M/I Homes widen the section of Elliott Road that is adjacent to the development, Hart said. It also requires the developer to improve the intersection of Hayden Run Road and Elliott Road to the north.

M/I Homes would be required to contribute an amount equal to 3.68 percent of the cost to improve the intersection, Hart said. The cost of the improvement, to be undertaken by the Franklin County Engineer's Office, is not yet known, he said.

The developer's required contribution is based on the amount of traffic that Hill Farm is expected to generate, Hart said. The traffic study indicated Hill Farm would increase traffic by less than 2 percent in the mornings but greater than 5 percent in the evenings, resulting in the 3.68 percent average, he said.

Two other intersections, Alton Darby Creek and Davis roads and Alton Darby Creek and Scioto Darby roads, were also studied but it was determined the developer was not required to contribute any cost toward future improvements at these intersections, Hart said.

Hill Farm would provide "move-up housing" for the Hilliard market and fill a niche that is needed, Hart said.

Homes would be priced from $375,000 to $450,000, he said.

In 2017, the average sale price for all homes in Hilliard was $262,000, according to Hart.

"The price point at Hill Farm begins about $100,000 above the market average," he said. "Hill Farm serves a need of providing more expensive housing options in Hilliard."

Hilliard City Schools leaders project single-family homes will result in 0.8 student per household, said district spokeswoman Stacie Raterman, but she emphasized "it's just an estimate." Applying that rate to 229 residences, at least 183 students would be expected.

Current attendance boundaries for the area indicate that students from the development would attend Darby High School and Heritage Middle School, according to hilliardschools.org.