The Farmstead development proposed for Grove City has yielded a crop of questions and concerns, raised by both city council members and residents.
The council's vote on legislation to approve zoning, an annexation agreement and development plan for the 209.5-acre development, to be located on the west side of Jackson Pike (state Route 104) and north of Scioto Meadows Boulevard, was postponed Jan. 22 to allow more time for matters to be addressed.
Councilwoman Christine Houk, who represents Ward 3, the area where the development would be built, said she has received letters and emails from more than 15 residents since that meeting.
"The concerns they (residents) are raising have to do with the amount of traffic that would be generated by the development, speed-limit issues, the school site that is proposed as part of the development area and the overall impact the development would have on our community, including the township and the police and fire departments," Houk said.
To help address some of those issues, Houk hosted a community meeting Feb. 7 at City Hall for a discussion of those issues.
Grand Communities is proposing the project, which would include 535 houses, divided into nine subareas. A total of 415 single-family houses and 120 attached single-family units are proposed. The Farmstead site is currently located in Jackson Township and would be annexed into Grove City if council approves legislation. Franklin County commissioners reviewed and approved the proposed annexation Sept. 25, 2018. The zoning legislation would zone the land as PUD-R (planned unit development) upon annexation.
Several residents have expressed concern about the number of cars the development would add to the already- burdened roadways surrounding the project area.
A traffic study conducted for the project, which was not available publicly for the Jan. 22 council meeting, is now accessible on the city's website, grovecityohio.gov.
The scope and format of the study was agreed to by the developer; Street Smarts Inc., the firm Grand Communities hired to conduct the study; and the city, said Jason Wisniewski, vice president of planning and zoning for Grand Communities.
When the study was submitted last September, the city reviewed and approved the document and its findings, he said.
Once both the developer and city were in agreement, the report was forwarded to the Ohio Department of Transportation for its review, Wisniewski said.
The only recommendations were to add a northbound left-turn lane and a southbound right-turn lane from Jackson Pike into Hawthorne Parkway extension, he said.
That intersection would serve as "the front door of Farmstead," Wisniewski said.
As a state route, Jackson Pike falls under state jurisdiction, and the roadway did not meet the state's standard to warrant a traffic signal, he said.
"In the development agreement, if a signal is ever warranted, we would put in $150,000 toward the signalization of the intersection," Wisniewski said.
ODOT is planning some additional improvements to Jackson Pike, said Mitch Blackford, ODOT District 6 deputy director.
In 2020, the roadway will be resurfaced and new guardrails and signs will be installed, he said.
Planning is underway for a project to upgrade state Route 104 at White Road, with the addition of a left-turn lane at the intersection, Blackford said.
ODOT uses data showing the number of accidents at a given intersection to help determine if roadway improvements are needed, he said.
Along Jackson Pike, "as development after development comes in (up and down the corridor) there will be left- and right-turn lanes required," Blackford said.
As more developments are built, a widening of the roadway would likely take place, he said.
Since it is a rural road, state regulations set the speed limit on Jackson Pike at 55 mph, Blackford said.
A section of the roadway could be reduced to 50 mph when it is included in the corporation limits, but lower speed limits are reserved for more urban areas, he said.
There will be three access points from Farmstead, so not all cars will be entering or leaving the development from or onto 104, Blackford said.
The number of traffic accidents at major intersections near the development has actually been declining, he said.
Over the last three years, only four non-animal-related accidents have occurred at the intersection of 104 and Borror Road, Blackford said.
The number of accidents at the intersection of London-Groveport Road (state Route 665) and Borror has declined from eight in 2015 to only two in 2018.
The developer has agreed to set aside about 11 acres of land in the central portion of the development as a potential future site for a new elementary school.
The questions raised about the school site include whether it is large enough to accommodate a modern elementary school building, the timeline for when the elementary school might be built and whether the South-Western City School District's elementary school boundaries would be redrawn if the new school was built, Houk said.
The pace of the development of Farmstead and other potential projects in the area would drive the timeline for if and when the elementary school is built, South-Western Superintendent Bill Wise said.
The projected 10.8-acre site within Farmstead is comparable to the size of the J.C. Sommer Elementary School site. Like Sommer, the Farmstead school would likely be designed to house about 600 students, Wise said.
Because a bond issue would be needed to fund construction of the new school, "we tend to be reactive" and would only decide to pursue the project if it was warranted, he said.
If the new school was built, elementary boundaries and, most likely, middle school boundaries would be redrawn, Wise said. It's unlikely that boundaries for high schools would change.
City Council is expected to vote on whether to approve the zoning, annexation agreement and development plan for Farmstead at its next meeting, which will be held Tuesday, Feb. 19, due to the Presidents Day holiday, Houk said.
Residents are invited to attend and give their views on the legislation, she said.