Grove City Council on March 4 narrowly gave its approval to a revised zoning text for the Farmstead residential development.

Council members Steve Robinette, Roby Schottke and Jeff Davis voted in favor of the revised document. Council members Ted Berry and Christine Houk voted against the zoning-text ordinance, continuing to voice concerns about the increased traffic from Farmstead while suggesting the revisions do not do enough to reduce the project's density.

Grand Communities, a company headquartered in the Cincinnati area, has proposed building 535 homes in nine subareas. In all, 415 single-family homes and 120 single-family attached units are proposed for the 209.5-acre site on the west side of Jackson Pike (state Route 104) and north of Scioto Meadows Boulevard.

Council tabled the zoning-text measure and other Farmstead legislation Feb. 19, giving the developer time to work with the city to find what Jason Wisniewski, Grand Communities vice president of planning and zoning, described as "a compromise, middle ground" to address concerns about the project's density and the traffic it would add to Jackson Pike and state Route 665.

Among the changes to the zoning text the developer agreed to was the removal of "multi-family" as a permitted use in for subarea H, Wisniewski said.

The amended document also moves the proscribed setback for the subarea to 50 feet from the Jackson Pike right of way and reduces the maximum building height to 2 stories, he said.

While Farmstead is "an awesome project," Berry said he could not support approving a project that would include apartments and multifamily housing.

"I just don't think 104 would hold that type of traffic (such housing would bring), in addition to there being no bus stop or retail that apartment dwellers can get to," Berry said.

There is also the question of the additional burden the apartments, town homes and multi-living units potentially would have on the school district, he said.

"It's not the proper space, position or location to have multi-family living or apartments," he said.

"My concerns continue to be tied to a lack of a definite plan or timeline for addressing the soft and hard infrastructure needs to support a project of this magnitude," Houk said.

As the council member who represents the Farmstead area, Houk said she has talked to many residents living near the site who are concerned about the additional demand traffic from the development would place on an already-stressed roadway.

Wisniewski said the development agreement includes his firm's commitment to building a northbound left-turn lane and southbound right-turn lane from state Route 104 into the Farmstead community.

The turn lanes are to be constructed as part of the project's first phase, he said.

The developer also has agreed to contribute $150,000 toward the cost of installing a traffic signal at Hawthorne Parkway and Route 104 if and when it is warranted, Wisniewski said.

A traffic signal is not warranted based on Ohio Department of Transportation standards, he said.

The project largely has remained the same over the past year and already has received two unanimous approvals from the city's planning commission and council's approval of a preliminary plan by a 4-1 vote, Wisniewski said.

Berry made a motion to further amend the zoning text to remove "town houses" as a permitted use on subarea H. His motion would have meant that only single-family detached homes would be permitted in that subarea.

The motion was defeated 3-2, with Houk casting the only vote with Berry in support of his motion.

With council's approval of the zoning text, the Farmstead property will be zoned as a planned-unit-development area.

The zoning was subject to council's approval of the annexation of the land from Jackson Township to the city.

Council voted to accept the annexation by the same 3-2 tally as the zoning text.

Two other measures council adopted include a development plan and a developer's agreement for Farmstead. Those ordinances each passed by a 4-1 vote with Houk casting the only "no" vote.

City Administrator Chuck Boso reminded council that a final development plan will still need to be approved for subarea H.

"If council and the administration don't like the layout (as presented at that time), they don't have to approve it," he said. "That judgment is down the road."

It will likely take at least 10 years for the entire Farmstead project to be built out, Wisniewski said.

"This isn't something that's going to fall out of the sky," he said.

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