Delaware City Council voted 5-2 last week to deny a 160-unit apartment complex aimed at young professionals and empty nesters.
During council's Oct. 22 meeting, only at-large council member Kent Shafer and 4th Ward representative Kyle Rohrer voted in favor of the three ordinances needed to move the Highpoint Place project forward.
The city's planning commission in August voted not to recommend the Highpoint proposal, which meant it needed a super-majority of council -- at least five "yes" votes -- to proceed.
"We clearly need multifamily housing and I understand where they're coming from with density," Shafer said. "The question is, are we comfortable overriding the zoning commission?"
Plans called for 160 apartments on about 17 acres on Bowtown Road, just west of Village Gate Apartments.
Some council members and residents had criticized the density, building heights and the potential for more traffic at the congested Point intersection of East William Street and East Central Avenue.
The Highpoint plan also had drawn ire because it would have fronted a narrow section of Bowtown Road.
The complex was billed as much-needed workforce housing for people currently commuting from Marion, Marysville and Columbus.
"Obviously, employers are supporting this for a number of reasons," said Steve Cuckler, an attorney representing Metro Development.
Cuckler noted other financial benefits to the city, including revenue from impact fees and infrastructure improvements.
The property currently is zoned multifamily residential.
Council voted "no" on the project's preliminary development plan, as well as a mixed-use overlay district and a conditional-use permit necessary for the developer to proceed.
Also at last week's meeting, council members continued to discuss a proposed a New Community Authority for the planned Terra Alta development, east of Pollock Road and north of Braumiller Road, which initially was approved in 2008.
Westerville-based developer Romanelli & Hughes is seeking the NCA to fund amenities for the planned community of more than 800 homes.
Unlike most NCAs -- which typically collect property taxes for infrastructure improvements, such as roads and sewers -- this request would pay for amenities such as fire pits, walking trails and a community pool.
The developer originally proposed a 7.5-mill assessment, but city officials Oct. 22 said they are awaiting an "updated number."
The millage assessment would be limited to homes within the development.
If approved by council, the community authority would "stand as it was submitted," said city attorney Darren Shulman. Details, including the millage amount and its collection period, still are being finalized, he said.
"We need some guidance from council," Shulman said. "Are you going to do it until a certain amount of money is collected? Or for a certain amount of time? You could say you'll put it in place forever, which is the way it's written right now."
Shafer said he was "comfortable" with the proposed 7.5 mills.
"The higher millage is better in the long run, provided it pays off the debt earlier," he said. "We want to make sure that whatever figure is agreed upon is what's going to be paid off by this -- that it doesn't go up."
But other council members, including Lisa Keller and George Hellinger, questioned the need for a community authority.
Hellinger said he believes the NCA is a way to "hide costs from the consumer."
"Why don't they just price their product higher?" he said. "(Developers) shouldn't make money this way. He needs to build that cost into his product."
Mike Shade, a Delaware-based attorney representing Terra Alta, said developers are pursuing the NCA to make their product competitive. He said developers already have spent about $4 million on the project, in part to install water and sewer lines.
"The developers have every right under state law to seek a community authority. At this stage of the game, no matter how this thing works out, the risk is all on the developer," Shade said.
"You're going to see more of this, because the pressures of the economics aren't working. We want quality housing so that people don't have to go out (of town)."