The face of Riverside Drive in Northwest Columbus is changing with two residential communities planned for the area.

Epcon Communities is expected to break ground this year on the Courtyards on Riverside -- 81 stand-alone condominium units on 20 acres of land at 5586 Riverside Drive, just to the east of Cranston Drive.

Adjacent to the south, local developer Romanelli & Hughes Building Co.'s plans to build Ravello, a single-family housing project off Riverside Drive, is running up against resistance from the neighborhood.

The 57-unit development would need a rezoning from a rural district to PUD-4, a planned unit development with density restrictions.

Ravello would be on 17.43 acres of vacant land at 5570 Riverside Drive, about a half mile north of West Case Road.

The development recently has met with opposition from the Northwest Civic Association, which initially recommended approval of the project in September but on April 3 reconsidered its support and recommended disapproval.

The matter is scheduled to appear before the Columbus Development Commission on May 9. Columbus City Council will have the ultimate say.

Nick Cipiti, president of the NWCA board, said a fellow trustee had noticed the entire property had been clear cut during the excavation process.

"There was the raising of some very practical issues with the natural growth of the trees, where they would slow down drainage, and without that could cause some serious drainage problems," Cipiti said.

Even with those concerns and expressed opposition, he said he believes the NWCA is generally supportive of both projects.

"I think overall we believe it's going to be good for the neighborhood," he said. "There were some issues with traffic. That area is pretty congested already. It's clear it's going to get a little bit more congested."

Matthew Cull, an attorney representing Romanelli & Hughes, said there were some "missteps" with the excavation of Ravello property, but the builder has put together a new landscape plan, which it intends to share with the NWCA.

Cull said the project fits into guidelines set forth in the city's Northwest Plan.

Also, "Our density (3.27 units per acre) is well below the maximum (4 unites per acre) allowed in the PUD-4," Cull said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary