Orange Township: Trustees vote 2-1 against Reserve at North Farms condos plan

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

The land at the northeast corner of Shanahan and North roads will remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future.

The Orange Township trustees rejected a rezoning request for the 24-acre parcel during a May 19 public hearing.

The Orange Township pedestrian bridge stretches across U.S. Route 23 in Lewis Center

Metro Development had sought to rezone the land from single-family planned residential to multifamily planned residential for the construction of 144 condominium units in 2-story structures, to have been called the Reserve at North Farms.

The plan was recommended for approval by the township’s zoning commission in April by a 3-2 vote, with opposition among area residents.

Trustees voted 2-1 to deny the zoning commission’s recommendation, with trustee Ryan Rivers dissenting.

Joe Thomas of Metro Development told trustees the rezoning was requested, in part, due to current market conditions. He said his company has approached multiple builders about placing single-family homes there and has been repeatedly turned down.

Lot sales have been slow, Thomas said, along the railroad tracks in the existing single-family sections of North Farms to the south.

This was the second such rezoning sought by Metro Development in the past year. Trustees denied a rezoning for apartments on the property in November.

Thomas said this proposal was different, given the now for-sale nature of the units, along with other changes to landscaping and architectural designs.

Thomas pointed to information that multifamily units bring fewer students into the schools than single-family homes while generating more property tax per student.

Olentangy Schools Superintendent Mark Raiff confirmed that district data supports this assertion.

Thomas also suggested that a diverse housing market is desirable, and even necessary, in the township.

Residents speaking against the proposal cited traffic and safety concerns, along with impact on property values.

Trustee Debbie Taranto agreed with Thomas that “we absolutely need more diverse housing” but maintained the opportunity to develop multifamily housing exists within the township’s U.S. Route 23 overlay, and the township’s comprehensive plan calls for single-family homes in the area of the requested rezoning.

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