Powell is beginning the process of annexing the site of a proposed development that could host the city's new library.

At its Feb. 5 meeting, Powell City Council held a first reading of an ordinance that would authorize City Manager Steve Lutz to enter into a preannexation agreement for the development at the northwest corner of Home and Steitz roads.

On the 11.7-acre tract, developer John Wicks plans two 7,000-square-foot retail spaces and 68 townhomes and "garden apartments" aimed at young professionals and future employees of Ohio State University's planned ambulatory-care center at Home Road and Sawmill Parkway.

He also plans for the site to serve as the home of the new Powell branch of the Delaware County District Library -- a concept that is possible but uncertain.

In December, library Director George Needham said the process to choose a new library site -- made possible by a successful levy renewal in November -- will be ongoing until at least the spring.

"It does tick off a lot of the boxes, but it's not a done deal," he said of the site in December. "I can't stress too much that no decision has been made yet."

With the library portion of the project up in the air, the city is moving to begin the annexation process, which can take up to six months. Though members of the city's development committee had concerns over what would replace the library in the plan, it was decided to move forward in the event that it will be included, with options to revisit the project before final approval.

Glen Dugger, an attorney with Columbus firm Smith and Hale LLC who is representing the developers, said everyone is aware that the best-case scenario is for the library to be part of the plans.

"We're holding our breath on the library because it will be easier for everyone involved," he said. "There is a plan B, but plan A is much better."

Regardless of the library conversation, the project is in a much better position than when it was first proposed.

Last fall, Wicks proposed a gas station, a convenience store and a storage-unit facility on the site, which drew anger from residents nearby.

With the new plan in place, development committee and council members thanked Wicks for working with residents.

"I want to commend the applicant for coming back," committee Chairman and City Councilman Frank Bertone said.

"The residents and the developer have worked together to get something agreeable," committee member and Councilman Daniel Swartwout agreed. "The fact that no one is here (in opposition) shows that this was a good process."

aking@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews