Hilliard City Council on Sept. 24 tabled two development proposals that have commanded the attention of public officials and residents for the past several months.
A proposal to build a Swensons Drive-In on Cemetery Road immediately west of the entrance to J.W. Reason Elementary School, 4790 Cemetery Road, was tabled indefinitely, and the Hill Farm proposal for 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, was postponed until Oct. 22.
Tim Reardon, a partner in the Swensons development, said Sept. 17 the proposal was being “tweaked” and he expected a revised plan would be presented to City Council or for reconsideration to the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission, which on Aug. 9 rejected the proposal for the sock-hop-style restaurant.
The Hill Farm proposal had been tabled to Sept. 24 from a Sept. 10 meeting.
Tom Hart, an attorney representing the developer, M/I Homes, on Sept. 24 outlined four amendments to an accompanying developer’s agreement delivered to City Council the same day and then asked for its postponement to allow council members time to review the changes.
Changes include a three-year purchase option to the Hilliard City Schools for 18 acres at $17,000 per acre from M/I Homes for an elementary school site; the developer providing the city $64,000 to engineer improvements at the intersection of Alton Darby and Scioto Darby roads; an agreement for the developer to surrender allocated sewer taps if construction does not commence within three years of the execution of the agreement; and providing $10,000 to the Sid Griffith Equestrian Center, 7380 Scioto Darby Road in Brown Township, for a fence to separate it from the proposed development, which would border it on three sides.
The decision to table the Hill Farm proposal was approved 4-3, with Tom Baker, Les Carrier and Pete Marsh voting no.
“I appreciate what (the developer) did to improve it but my concerns can’t be overcome in four weeks,” Marsh said after the meeting.
Council President Albert Iosue told Hart that City Council is required to receive a final version of the developer’s agreement at least seven days before Oct. 22 in order for the rezoning to be considered.
The developer’s agreement is separate from the rezoning but both legislative items are expected to be considered Oct. 22.
If approved, 163 acres would be rezoned to allow for the construction of single-family residences; 44 acres would remain in Brown Township as parkland.
M/I Homes has not closed on the purchase of the 163 acres from the property owners – the Hill family – and would not do so until the rezoning is approved, Hart said.
M/I Homes also would not purchase the 18 acres for a school site until and unless district leaders expressed an interest in purchasing it within three years, he said.
Hart said he was not aware of the specifics of the school district’s purchase option, which he called “proprietary,” but he confirmed it was between the district and the developer.
“It will be up to the district whether it wants to exercise that option,” he said.
The land will be offered to the district “at about half” of its market value because M/I Homes is “trying to create a public benefit,” Hart said.
M/I has a track record of providing school sites within its developments because it is a desirable amenity to have a neighborhood school, he said.
In an Aug. 27 letter from Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen to Iosue, Marschhausen expressed district leaders’ desire to explore a school site at Hill Farm and that purchasing land, rather than a land swap, “may better serve the district.”
The proposed Hill Farm development also includes 3 acres that could be used for a fourth Norwich Township fire station.
Before any construction on Hill Farm begins, a development plan must be created and submitted to the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission for approval, Hart said.