A rezoning application for Alton Place, a proposed $275 million mixed-use development at Alton Darby Creek and Roberts roads, has advanced to Hilliard City Council.

It could be considered as soon as Monday, June 8, according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

In a 7-0 vote May 28, the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning.

City Council had tabled the rezoning application in December 2019, so the June 8 public hearing could be the second and final reading of the ordinance unless it were postponed again, Ball said.

Council’s decision to table the application in December followed a 5-0 vote by the planning and zoning commission in May 2019 recommending approval of the rezoning.

“It’s worthy, but too much is unknown,” council member Tom Baker said in December.

The developer, Dwight McCabe of the McCabe Cos., worked with city officials on a revised application.

“We feel we are prepared to respond to all of the council's questions and directions received at the tabled hearing in December,” McCabe said after the May 28 meeting. “With an affirmative vote from council, the process moves on to preparation of development plans and final engineering.

“We could see a groundbreaking (in) late winter or early spring.”

The development plans and engineering also are subject to the purview of the planning and zoning commission, McCabe said.

For example, commission member Jay Muether suggested a requirement for a connecting path to undeveloped land to the north of Alton Place, but commission chairman Chris Lewie said that would be better addressed during discussion of a final development plan to occur if the rezoning is approved.

The revised application changes the layouts of roads in the proposed development into “more of a grid,” city planner John Talentino said.

The number and location of access points to Alton Place from arterial roads are yet to be finalized, he said.

“Most everything else is similar (to what was presented last year),” Talentino said.

As proposed, Alton Place would be on 343 acres north of Roberts Road and west of Alton Darby Creek Road, with 148 single-family lots and 297 attached residential units. It would include 53 acres of commercial uses and 172 acres of open space.

Melissa Brinkerhoff of Langton Road spoke against the application.

In addition to challenging some figures regarding the residential density of the development, she said the additional infrastructure needed to absorb traffic and the additional schools for students living in the subdivision would be achieved “on the backs of taxpayers.”

The Big Darby Accord Advisory Panel approved the Alton Place concept in December 2018, its first step before going to the planning and zoning commission for the first time in May 2019.

Hilliard is one of 10 local governments that created the Big Darby Accord in 2004 to preserve and protect the Big Darby Creek and its tributaries in western central Ohio, according to bigdarbyaccord.com.

In 2008, Hilliard City Council approved the Big Darby Accord Watershed Master Plan, according to authorizing legislation.

The accord panel, which issues nonbinding recommendations, includes representatives from the cities of Columbus, Grove City and Hilliard, Brown, Norwich, Pleasant, Prairie and Washington townships, the village of Harrisburg and Franklin County.

Talentino said in 2019 the density of Alton Place would be about 1.3 units per acre, slightly higher than the 1-unit-per-acre standard in the city’s comprehensive plan for the conservation district in which it is located. However, “density bonuses,” such as green space in excess of the minimum requirements, allow for slightly greater density, he said at the time.

According to the latest staff report, the density remains 1.3 units per acre.

Brinkerhoff told the commission “the density doesn’t reflect the intent of the Big Darby Accord (Advisory Panel),” and a 33-acre retention pond should not have been included in the 172 acres of open space used in calculating the development’s density.

“The Big Darby Accord was never intended to halt development,” McCabe said.

Rather, he said, it sets the template for responsible development in the corridor.

McCabe did not identify who would build the residential and commercial structures in Alton Place.

“But we haven’t found anyone who doesn’t want to be here,” he said.

McCabe said he would “hand-pick” builders “who agree to our conditions.”

McCabe previously has described Alton Place as a “cradle-to-grave” concept that would provide housing and walkable amenities for people of all ages, with businesses and services as part of the development.

The land, for which McCabe said he has a purchase option, is owned by Homewood Corp. and was annexed into Hilliard in 2009.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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