Talks are continuing between Grove City officials and the developer of the proposed Farmstead project in an effort to address concerns and potentially gain council's approval of the project.
Council members received a revised zoning text for the development a few hours before their Feb. 19 meeting. The zoning text and other measures were on the agenda for approval at the meeting after being tabled Jan. 22.
The initial tabling allowed for a community meeting to be held Feb. 7, at which time issues relating to the project's density and a nearly 11-acre parcel the developer has agreed to set aside as a potential site for a new elementary school were discussed.
Grand Communities is proposing to build the Farmstead development on 209.5 acres on the west side of Jackson Pike (state Route 104), north of Scioto Meadows Boulevard.
The developer plans to build 535 homes, which would be divided into nine subareas. In all, 415 single-family houses and 120 attached single-family units are proposed.
The revised zoning text presented Feb. 19 remains substantively unchanged, although the document was restructured with various sections being reordered, city development director Kyle Rauch said.
The only major change in the zoning text adds the word apartments to the list of permitted uses in subarea H, which is located at the southeast portion of the development area. Apartments would be permitted along with multifamily housing, including condominiums, as potential uses.
Permitting multifamily units as a component in large-scale residential developments has been typical in Grove City, including with the Beulah Park and Pinnacle projects, Rauch said.
From the city's standpoint, the location of the potential site of multifamily housing in Farmstead is well-situated near a major entry to the development and near state Route 104 (Jackson Pike), "so there's not a lot of traffic going through the site," Rauch said.
The developer proposes building up to 120 single-family attached and/or condominium units in subarea H.
If the revised zoning text would be approved, the developer would still have to present and gain council's approval of a separate development plan for subarea H, Rauch said.
The variety of housing options proposed for Farmstead is one of the project's attributes, said Jason Wisniewski, vice president of planning and zoning for Grand Communities.
"We have everything from single-family homes for move-up home buyers to established families, to patio homes for young families and empty nesters, to a multifamily component for empty nesters and young professionals, depending on where they are in their life cycle," he said.
The mix of housing in Farmstead would allow residents to remain in the community as their housing needs change, Wisniewski said.
Councilman Ted Berry said he remains concerned about the potential inclusion of apartments in the zoning text as a permitted use in subarea H.
"If I vote for this (zoning text), that basically says they can put apartments in there," he said.
High-density apartments are opposite of what the GroveCity2050 strategic plan the city adopted last year recommends for the Farmstead area, including the parcel in question, Berry said.
Instead, "suburban living low-density housing" is mentioned multiple times in GroveCity2050, he said.
"I don't know why we would want to put apartments out there," Berry said.
In considering issues regarding residential developments in Grove City, "I've tried to make decisions that are mindful of keeping apartments close to jobs and to public transportation," Councilwoman Christine Houk said.
"This site doesn't fit that mold to me," she said.
The project's density is also a concern given the number of proposed single-family home lots that would have 60- or 50-foot widths, she said.
Her own concern about apartments is heightened because "there are multiple subareas that are already in tight quarters," Houk said.
"Most of the pushback I hear from folks is that as we're getting out to that portion of town, we're thinking areas ought to open up more, and this seems to constrict," council President Steve Robinette said.
Another concern is the location of houses on each side of the site the developer has set aside as a potential future site of a new elementary school, he said.
If it was economically viable, perhaps the developer could agree to move those houses to subarea H or another area and away from the potential site of the school, Robinette said.
Grand Communities would be open to considering that adjustment, Wisniewski said.
At the Feb. 19 meeting, Berry made a motion to revise the zoning text to remove "apartments" and "multifamily" as permitted uses for subarea H.
Wisniewski asked council to table its consideration of the zoning text, as well as measures to approve the annexation of the 209-acre Farmstead development area from Jackson Township to Grove City, a development plan and a developers agreement, until its next meeting Monday, March 4.
The developer will work with the city to determine if there can be a "compromise, a middle ground" that can take into account the concerns council has raised while providing Grand Communities with an assurance of what it would be able to build, he said.
Council voted to table each measure until March 4.