Orange Township trustees set public hearings for two zoning issues -- the 23 Overlay District and a multifamily development on North Road -- at the board's Sept. 8 virtual meeting.

Both plans have been recommended for approval by the township's zoning commission, and both hearings will be held remotely via Zoom.

The hearing for the 23 Overlay District will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21. The overlay language was adapted by the zoning commission based on the proposed Route 23 Corridor Guide, developed by One Delaware, a private-public partnership that seeks to promote commercial development and tax diversification along U.S. Route 23 throughout much of Delaware County.

It advocates streamlined commercial zoning along the corridor.

"Orange Township is an anchor in the plan," board chairman Ryan Rivers said.

The commission voted 4-1 Aug. 25 to recommend approval of the overlay.

Trustees will hear a proposal for a 144-unit multifamily development on 25.4 acres on the east side of North Road at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 5. The commission voted 2-1 to recommend approval at its Sept. 1 meeting.

"I expect this hearing to be longer than others we've had," zoning director Michele Boni told trustees.

Boni said this is a new plan for the site, which initially was approved as a single-family development in 2013 as the last phase in the North Farms subdivision.

The multifamily proposal has drawn criticism from many township residents, Boni said, with most concerns expressed about stress on traffic and schools.

"I've personally talked to more than 100 residents (about the proposal)," Boni said, noting that many residents also have sent messages to be included in official public comments. "All of those were sent to zoning commission members and I will be passing those along to the trustees as well."

Olentangy Schools Superintendent Mark Raiff told zoning commissioners the number of students "from multifamily (developments) is significantly lower than from single-family." He added that multifamily developments typically yield more in tax revenue per student than single-family, as well.

Noting that developers increased the setback from North Road and moved one point of egress from Shanahan Road to North Road, directly across from an entrance to the North Farms development, commissioner Dennis McNulty called the proposal "one of the best uses of this property next to the railroad tracks and (the future) Jennings Park."

Commissioner Adam Pychevicz noted appreciation for the work completed on the site by developers, but voted against recommending the plan for approval due to the amount of opposition and the proposal's impact on the township's comprehensive plan.

The Oct. 5 public hearing on the Reserve at North Farms will take place after the scheduled trustees' meeting at 6 p.m.

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