New Albany City Council on Tuesday, June 2, approved an ordinance annexing 63.5 acres from Plain Township into the city.

The vote was 6-1, with Mayor Sloan Spalding opposing it.

A residential developer, Homewood Homes, requested the annexation in order to build a housing development at Central College Road and Jug Street. The land, which is north of Central College and west of Jug, had shared a contiguous boundary with New Albany, according to the meeting’s legislative report.

The property is in the New Albany-Plain Local School District and is owned by Homewood Homes, according to the legislative report.

The Franklin County commissioners approved the annexation request Feb. 11, according to council clerk Jennifer Mason.

The annexation will take effect July 2, 30 days after its approval by council, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee.

Aaron Underhill, who provides legal representation for Columbus-based Homewood Homes, said the company has owned the property since 2006. He said he thinks Homewood likely will build empty-nester housing on the land.

“It’s hard to tell when that will be, given that the utilities are not there,” he said.

Homewood petitioned for annexation to provide the land with access to city services and – when they are extended to the vicinity of the property – public utilities, Underhill said.

Although the company plans to propose an empty-nester development, the timing of the project is uncertain because sanitary-sewer and water-service infrastructure are not yet near the property, he said.

City Manager Joseph Stefanov said New Albany has no immediate plans to extend water and sewer infrastructure to the area.

Although New Albany plans to invest in infrastructure along and near Beech Road to the east, Homewood leaders realize commercial economic development will drive the timing of those projects, Underhill said.

Homewood also is aware of the effect residential housing would have on the school district, he said.

“The company is aware that the school district is an important consideration in New Albany when planning residential development and intends, when the time comes, to make sure that any development it proposes will not negatively impact the school district,” Underhill said.

New Albany-Plain Local Superintendent Michael Sawyers said district leaders do not oppose the annexation.

“The proposed usage options will not adversely impact the school district with significant enrollment of any type and will generate new revenue to benefit our schools in future years,” he said.

Spalding said he voted against the ordinance because he is concerned about additional residential property and its effects on the school district, especially in light of state funding cuts because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“Plus, the extension of sewer and water will be a substantial cost,” he said.

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