A 263-home subdivision proposed on the north side of Peachblow Road came under fire for its narrow lot sizes during Delaware City Council's Oct. 14 meeting.
A motion that would have allowed a vote on the Winterbrooke Place subdivision's preliminary subdivision plat failed when only four council members voted to suspend the rules requiring another reading of the measure at a later council meeting. City attorney Darren Shulman said five "yes" votes were required.
Voting not to suspend the rules were council members Lisa Keller, George Hellinger and Jim Browning.
The subdivision would cover 102.1 acres north of Peachblow and west of the railroad tracks.
The plat calls for 112 lots that are 52 feet wide, 130 lots at 65 feet wide and 21 lots at 80 feet wide. All lots would be 130 feet deep.
Keller said she sees no benefit to 52-foot lots and Winterbrooke Place "isn't what we all keep talking about as affordable housing" or a project that will attract retirees.
Winterbrooke Place's single-family houses would represent "the same product we're offering everywhere else. We're just crowding more (houses) together" with narrower lots, she said.
She cited another development in the southern part of the city that's "claustrophobic ... (and) looks just like one house after another, connected."
Delaware attorney Michael Shade, representing developer Grden LLC, defended the plan and said the subdivision is designed to attract mainly younger people not yet ready to have children.
House prices probably would range from $300,000 to $350,000, he said.
Some families and older couples with no children at home might move there, he said, but the project isn't designed to attract them.
He also said the project's preliminary development plan was approved by the city earlier.
Both Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle and council member Kent Shafer cited buyer demand for smaller lot sizes.
Shafer said he, Riggle and some others attended a seminar the previous weekend with builders doing business across the country, and smaller lot sizes are not unique.
City planning director Dave Efland said smaller lot sizes are becoming a trend in the area, and such developments are of "higher-end quality."
Later in the meeting, Keller said, "I don't think it's appropriate for developers to come in here and pressure us to make decisions faster than we feel comfortable making them. ... Our code says we read things three times. ... I don't appreciate being put under pressure to vote to suspend the rules sooner than I or anyone else on this board is comfortable with doing, and I really resent that pressure."
She also referred to the weekend seminar Shafer described, saying, "What I see forming is a very disturbing trend of developers trying to influence not only this council but elected bodies throughout Delaware County.
"That influence is coming in the form of campaign contributions and through the support of candidates who are running for positions that are very developer-friendly, who are being supported by developers. ... These decisions should be made in the best interest of the people who live here and not the developers who are bringing forward plans and trying to make money here," Keller said.
She said if there were an event in the future that candidates who are developer-friendly are invited to, she and all council members should be invited.
Hellinger replied, "Mrs. Keller took the words right out of my mouth."
Shafer said he didn't know who sent the invitations for the seminar, which was "sponsored in part by the (Delaware County) Finance Authority, which I'm on the board of directors of."