After receiving the city planning commission's nod, a final development plan for the proposed Farmstead residential community will advance to Grove City Council for its consideration.

While the residential development is on track for approval, one component of the project area may be years away from becoming a reality.

An 11-acre site in the southwest portion of the development is earmarked as a site for a potential new elementary school for the South-Western City School District.

It is developments like Farmstead and the potential impact they may have on enrollment that will drive if or when a new elementary school is built, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

"As development happens throughout the community, the new residences they bring may cause our enrollment to increase at a higher rate than expected," he said.

If that happens, the district may need to consider new buildings, Wise said.

With anticipated enrollment increases in mind, the first phase of the district's Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project, which focused primarily on building 13 new elementary schools, added more than 1,700 seats for students, he said.

"As of now, we're using about 800 of those seats, so we still have a number of seats available in our district that should last us for a number of years," Wise said.

But another factor is if enrollment increases occur in areas of the district where seating capacity is limited, he said.

That issue could create a need for another building, Wise said.

The area where Farmstead would be built now is served by Buckeye Woods Elementary School, Jackson Middle School, Hayes and Park Street intermediate schools and Grove City High School, he said.

Those schools have available space for additional students now, but that could change as families move into Farmstead and other new developments, Wise said.

The inclusion of space within Farmstead that could be used for a school demonstrates the developer and the city have considered potential effects, he said.

The school acreage is not being donated, and Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage stated when city council approved the preliminary plan for Farmstead in July that the city would look to negotiate an agreement with the developer for sharing the cost of the school land as part of a development agreement that would be submitted to city council.

Farmstead is being developed by Grand Communities Ltd. Grand Communities is the affiliated development company for Fischer Homes, a Cincinnati-based firm.

The development would include 535 single-family houses on about 206 acres located on the west side of Jackson Pike (state Route 104) and about 2,100 feet north of London-Groveport Road.

A total of 415 houses would be single-family detached units and 120 would be single-family attached or condominium units.

An amenity center, including a clubhouse, pool and playground, for Farmstead residents would be placed on the north side of Hawthorne Parkway, near the center of the development.

Mike Linder, a planning commission member, said he is concerned the approximately 10 parking spaces proposed for the amenity center would not be adequate.

While the sidewalks surrounding the center and located throughout the development might help encourage residents to walk to the center, the pool could be expected to be heavily used during the summer, Linder said.

The parking and traffic issue would also be affected by the proposal that the center would contain cluster-box unit mailboxes for the residents, he said.

"It seems like there could be a lot of interaction between cars and kids," Linder said.

According to the staff report presented to the commission, while city code requires a mailbox be provided for each parcel or lot in a development, the cluster-box units are a new U.S. Postal Service requirement for all new developments and the postal service selects the final location for these units.

The number of parking spaces planned for the amenity center is based on historical averages of pool attendance Grand Communities has seen at its other developments, said Jason Wisniewski, vice president of planning and zoning for Grand Communities.

Typically there are three peak days for pool attendance -- Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day -- and on other days a smaller number of "pool people" are regular visitors, he said.

"We don't want to oversize a parking lot because (you're putting in) more money into spaces that aren't needed, and you could have put something more in the pool facility that would actually be used by the residents," Wisniewski said.

The planning commission forwarded its recommendation that the development plan be approved with the stipulation that the cluster-box units be located in a turnaround area with a separate entry and exit to maintain traffic flow.

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