A housing development in the planning stages for 15 years received its final approval March 23 from Delaware City Council.

The city first approved preliminary plans for the Terra Alta development, east of Pollock Road and north of Braumiller Road, in 2008, just before the worst of the Great Recession.

Terra Alta now includes a proposed development earlier called Stockdale Farms -- for which the city approved a preliminary plan in 2014 -- and what is called the Rogers Tract, all in the same area.

The development covers 472.9 acres and would include 870 single-family units, with 657 single-family lots and 213 condominium, patio and duplex units.

Also included are 179.28 acres of open space, parks, street trees, perimeter landscaping, bicycle paths, pedestrian routes, a clubhouse and a pool.

The project is an "open-space subdivision in many respects," said city planning director David Efland.

Council member Cory Hoffman said the public might ask why council chose to give the project final approval in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Terra Alta will outlast the virus, he said, and the approved ordinances will give the city a plan in place to move forward "after all this is behind us."

The March 23 council meeting was livestreamed on the city's Facebook page, using Cisco Webex video conferencing.

The meeting also included a public hearing on Terra Alta.

Council clerk Elaine McCloskey read to council several comments received by email, or as Facebook comments, and one comment was received via telephone.

The comments included an objection to the burden hundreds of new residences could put on Delaware City Schools, at a time when the district is facing budget issues.

Efland said the northernmost Terra Alta section is in the city school district, while the Stockdale Farms and Rogers Tract to the south are in Olentangy Schools.

The school districts' planning processes have taken Terra Alta into account for 15 years, he said, and the current number of proposed housing units is lower than the original proposal.

City Manager Tom Homan said Terra Alta's plans also include a number of residences designed for older residents without children.

Jim Owen, one of the developers, earlier told council Terra Alta's projected house prices would range from $350,000 to $375,000.

Also during the meeting, council approved a combined preliminary and final development plan for a Sheetz restaurant, drive-through and gas station at 700 Sunbury Road.

Existing buildings at the 4.8-acre site would be razed to make room for a 6,007-square-foot building, eight gasoline pumps and 47 parking spaces. Skilken Gold Real Estate Development is the applicant.

The land is zoned community business district and general business district.

Frank Petruziello, Skilken's president of development, earlier told council Sheetz will eliminate one of the existing curb cuts on Sunbury Road.

A city planning and zoning report said Sheetz will be left with two curb cuts for right-in, right-out access along Sunbury Road, plus a full-movement entrance on the adjacent Mill Run Crossing.

Efland earlier said traffic leaving Sheetz would use Mill Run to cross Sunbury Road to the north.

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