The Northwest City Association on March 6 is expected to vote on a development proposal that hasn't set well with some Reed Road neighbors.
NWCA president Nick Cipiti said he's still accepting comments about the development, which was discussed during the NWCA board's special meeting Feb. 20.
At issue is Preferred Living's plans for a new headquarters for engineering firm Burgess and Niple and 180 apartments in five 3-story buildings on 8.5 acres in the 5000 block of Reed Road.
The new headquarters would replace the one from which Burgess and Niple has been operating for nearly half a century.
Cipiti said he would post his summary from the special meeting on the NWCA's website, northwestcivic.org, and accept comments there and on the civic association's Facebook page.
"Overall, it was a very productive meeting," Cipiti wrote in an email. "Neighbors expressed their concerns, and the developer provided explanations and possible solutions."
About 30 people showed up to voice objections, Cipiti said.
Dave Pickut, a 40-year resident of northwest Columbus and an ardent opponent of the Preferred Living development, said he estimates attendance at closer to 50.
"(There were) fairly contentious discussions, but Nick Cipiti of NWCA did a nice job of controlling the meeting while allowing everyone to have their say," Pickut said.
Cipiti said residents' concerns included potential increases in traffic along Reed Road and more cars cutting through the side streets. Another concern was density -- that area already has more apartments than other precincts -- lack of adequate parking, causing spillover parking into the neighborhoods, noise coming from balconies facing houses and violations of the Northwest Plan, including setback distances, Cipiti said.
"Preferred Living offered solutions such as putting in a left-turn lane, eliminating balconies on certain units and looking into tree buffers to reduce noise and improve the visual aesthetics," Cipiti wrote. "Some issues, such as sewer and drainage, have to be handled by the city."
Pickut said he fears the anticipated vote March 6 will be an "academic exercise," based on a Columbus city staff recommendation for approval of the Preferred Living rezoning request.
"The requested ... apartment office district will allow a mixed-use development that is compatible with the density and development standards of adjacent residential and office developments," that staff recommendation stated, he said.
"Although the Northwest Plan recommends this location for office use, the Planning Division staff recognizes that the redevelopment proposal would result in the construction of a new office building that would serve to retain the existing office tenant.
"Additionally, the site plan included with the concurrent council variance provides buffering for residential developments to the south ... ."
Cipiti said the next step is "to summarize all this and post a draft on the NWCA website."
"All parties are invited to make suggestions to the draft, either on Facebook or by NWCA email," he said. "A final version will be presented to the board at the March meeting for discussion and a vote."
That meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road.