A Florida developer took a step back last week, opting to delay plans for a 402-unit apartment complex at a prominent corner in northwest Columbus.

NR Investments of Miami temporarily will shelve its development project of 20 acres, commonly known as the Zimmerman tract, at 4497 Olentangy River Road.

Attorney Michael T. Shannon, who's representing the developer, said the motion to table was made to give the city of Columbus more time to study preexisting sewer conditions in the Knolls, a subdivision south of the apartments across Henderson Road.

"Obviously, we understand the neighborhood's concerns about some preexisting problems in their neighborhood," Shannon said.

The tabling of the issue followed a rancorous Northwest Civic Association meeting Aug. 7. Hundreds of residents, many with gripes about the project, packed the gymnasium at Meadow Park Church, 2425 Bethel Road.

Many of the complaints centered on increased sewer capacity threatening the troubled infrastructure in the Knolls subdivision.

Nick Cipiti, president of the Northwest Civic Association, said NR's decision to table the matter is a good step in finding out the sewer issues troubling the Knolls.

"I've seen pictures of raw sewage bubbling up from the drains," Cipiti said.

Residents of the Knolls repeated concerns about the influx of stormwater to an already-overloaded system, which causes backups of both sanitary and stormwater systems after heavy rainfall.

Although Shannon and engineers assured residents that the infrastructure in the area could handle the capacity, intense skepticism was expressed by residents of the Knolls and NWCA members, who said the aging pipes were the cause of the backup problems.

Shannon said there was enough conflicting information on the matter to give the city time to provide a clearer image on the sewer conditions in the Knolls.

Other complaints about the project centered on intensity of use and adding more cars to the congested intersection of Olentangy River and Henderson roads.

The plan is to build 402 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments -- five more units than originally discussed -- in five buildings, with rents starting out at $1,700, Shannon said. The buildings would be three or four stories tall, with parking underneath some of them.

"We think multifamily makes sense for multiple reasons," Shannon told the NWCA, adding the use was recommended in the Northwest Plan.

There was blowback, however, from NWCA members, who said office use also was a desired option on the property.

Shannon countered that NR has taken significant steps to protect a stream that runs through the center of the tract and that 62 trees would be preserved on the property. A commercial development, he said, likely would destroy those environmental protections.

On Aug. 8, the Columbus Development Commission also tabled the matter at the request of the developer.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary