An annexation proposal that could see Powell's borders creep north of Home Road for the first time has stalled after residents raised concerns about a gas station and more planned for the site.
The city's planning and zoning commission May 9 was scheduled to hear plans to annex and rezone about 12 acres at the northwest corner of Home and Steitz roads in Liberty Township.
That meeting was canceled at the request of the developer to allow time to "engage in conversations with the neighborhood groups about his proposal," Powell Development Director Dave Betz said.
According to documents submitted to the city April 26 by developer John Wicks, the parcel could be divided into three areas of use: more than 4 acres each for a gas station and convenience store and a separate storage business; and another 1.6 acres for up to a 21,000-square-foot retail and office building.
The 4.8 acres nearest the corner of Home and Steitz roads would be dedicated to the 10,500-square-foot convenience store and gas station, the plan shows.
Buildings would have a "farmstead feel" and be designed to look like rural barns that had been converted over time.
Wicks said the development is in the preliminary phase and the plan will be guided by input from the planning and zoning commission.
He confirmed he asked Powell to table the application and is working with his attorney to set up a meeting with about 10 neighbors of the site.
"You have to start somewhere. The next step is to have that sketch plan submitted," Wicks said. "We certainly are not in the business of coming in and trying to blindside people with a plan that they don't expect or don't want. I suspect that whatever goes in here will end up being utilized by the people in the area."
The annexation would not have been possible before last spring.
In 2002, the city and township came to terms on a Cooperative Economic Development Agreement, known as CEDA, to guide future annexations -- about the same time the city annexed the large Golf Village subdivision, which sits at the intersection of Sawmill Parkway and Home Road.
A provision in the CEDA that prohibited Powell from annexing land north of Home Road for 15 years expired in May 2017.
The land currently is zoned residential in Liberty Township, and Wicks said he considered housing as a development option, but a real-estate analysis submitted as part of the initial plan shows that "a residential use is not the recommended use for the property."
The analysis notes the high-tension power lines that run across the site and a tower on the property, as well as its proximity to "two major roadways," as reasons against residential development. It also states there are about 3,000 existing and planned homes within a 3-mile radius of the site.
The 2015 Powell Comprehensive Plan identifies the land north of Home Road as "conservation development," should any future annexation occur. However, the plan also states future land uses are meant to "illustrate a broad pattern of land use and development types" and are "not intended to designate very specific land uses for individual parcels of land."
Neighbors push back
Kevin Hilvert moved into what was among the first of 38 new homes in the Harvest Point subdivision off Steitz Road in 2016.
He said the 2015 designation of the land adjacent to his property was one of the reasons he decided to build a home there.
"It gave me the comfort that there wouldn't be a gas station in my backyard," Hilvert said. "I'm very much opposed to any sort of mixed-use commercial development.
"I just hope that the city of Powell listens to the concerns of the people around this area and looks closely at what it said just three years ago about the proper development of this area."
Jon Petz shares about 200 yards of property line with the land set to be annexed.
He bought his house on Home Road in 2013, and a "key element" to moving out of a subdivision was the belief that the area would remain residential.
Petz said he worries about potential crime that a gas station could bring, as well as light and noise pollution.
"We moved in assuming there would be houses on both sides of us," Petz said.
The 21,000 square feet of proposed office space could be used to serve the residents in the immediate area, Wicks said.
He gave examples such as an orthodontist's office or day-care center -- "the types of things that residents in this area want."
A gas station, Wicks said, is "certainly part of the plan."
"Our goal is to create something here that people will be excited about," Wicks said. "We have heard a lot of positive things about this concept, and I think it's going to serve a lot of people."
There is a Marathon gas station about a mile away from the proposed site, off Sawmill Parkway.
That's the appropriate location for commercial services, Hilvert said.
"You don't need the property that we're talking about to provide those services," Hilvert said.
Powell's planning and zoning commission could hear the proposal as soon as June 13.
Petz said he and his neighbors welcome the chance to meet with the developer and hope to work with all parties involved.
"A lot of us feel like procedure has been short cut," Petz said. "I don't think anyone is opposed to having that land developed, but there's a lot of people who are still unaware and a lot of people are going to be impacted."
The property is owned by TLK Development, according to Delaware County Auditor's Office records.