Despite additional concessions from the developer and approval by the city’s planning commission, Reynoldsburg City Council rejected a rezoning ordinance Monday night, Sept. 24, that would allow Metro Development to build an apartment complex on Taylor Road Southwest.
Council members voted 4-3 to deny a request to change zoning on the 24-acre parcel at 9366 to 9370 Taylor Road from community commerce and multiple family residence to planned neighborhood development - the only way Metro Development officials had said they could proceed with the project.
Kristin Bryant, Stacie Baker and Caleb Skinner voted for the ordinance and Barth Cotner, Brett Luzader, Marshall Spalding and Mel Clemens voted against it.
Joe Thomas, from Metro Development, gave a last plea for the project during the public service and transportation committee meeting held prior to the council meeting.
He said the plan had been reduced from 240 to 192 units and would include only two-story buildings instead of some three-story structures, reducing the density to 7.9 units per acre. The new plan called for 13.9 acres of open space, where Metro would build a park.
“We included walkways in the plan so that people could gain access to Kroger and would install fencing along the pond,” Thomas said. “We conducted an additional traffic study and will put in a turning lane at Main and Taylor.
He said the company also would donate $61,000 to the city’s parks and recreation department.
The concessions were not enough for some residents.
Robert Barga, a resident who's also a member of the Reynoldsburg Board of Education, cited several reasons why the development would not work.
“The rezoning would break city code and council members took an oath to follow the city code,” he said. “You also would be gambling with our money, since you cannot insure any of the promises (the developer made) would be kept.”
Resident Aaron Young said allowing the rezoning “would be breaking the law.”
“We keep going over this, but your city law and the code say that density should not exceed five units per acre,” he said. “You need to put your big-boy pants on this time and vote.”
Another resident, however, thought Metro had satisfied public concerns.
“As a homeowner, I believe Metro has done a good job to address our issues,” Justin Crawford said. “I am thrilled with the idea of the new turning lane and I feel the development would be a good fit for the city.”
Michael Murphy, who owns the parcel, said Metro also had satisfied his concerns.
“You asked them to lower the density, which meant they had to come back to the seller,” he said. “I think they have gone out of their way to provide a quality development.”
Bryant said council should follow the lead of the planning commission, which approved the latest plans for the project Sept. 6.
“The planning commission does not take their obligations lightly,” she said. “I think we have all watched the city change in the past 10-20 years, and we want developers to know we are open for business.”
The planning commission rejected Metro’s original design early in the year, however, then approved a revised plan June 7, after the developer promised only two-story buildings and added a southbound turning lane at Taylor Road and Main Street to ease traffic concerns.
When that plan was submitted to council in July, however, committee members wanted the 240-unit plan reduced to 192 units, so it went back to the planning commission.
Baker said he originally had been against the project, but changed his mind after the developer made changes.
“People are going to come here, so let’s take care of them when they get here,” he said.
Clemens said he wants to take care of people who already live in Reynoldsburg.
“I opposed this all the way,” he said. “When we pass something, we need to take the residents of the city under consideration. I don’t think this development would be a help to us at all.”
Luzader said the final decision came “after a slow process.”
“Everyone got due diligence, however, and were part of the process,” he said.