Developer eyes Reynoldsburg's Lancaster Avenue for townhomes, apartments

KELLEY YOUMAN
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ThisWeek group

A new development known as the Oliver could bring more than 80 townhomes and apartments to a 4.5-acre site on Lancaster Avenue if the city's planning commission approves.

Commission members voted unanimously Aug. 27 to table a major site-plan application for a multifamily development at 1170 Lancaster Ave., just north of Grace Apostolic Church.

The commission is expected to hear the application again during a special meeting scheduled Thursday, Sept. 17.

Principle Homes LLC has proposed 56 apartments and 32 townhomes, according to documents submitted to the planning commission.

The one- and two-bedroom apartments would range in size from 615 square feet to 998 square feet.

The two- and three-bedroom townhomes each would include attached two-car garages and range in size from 1,870 square feet to 2,350 square feet, according to the plans.

The apartments would be rented and the townhomes sold to private owners, said Laurie Gunzelman of Gunzelman Architecture + Interiors, the project's designer.

Plans call for preserved wetlands space, interior sidewalks and a dog park that would be open to the surrounding community. A total of 132 parking spaces are planned, not including the townhome garages.

Gunzelman said developers want to break ground in early April.

The property is zoned RM -- residential medium.

More than a dozen neighbors spoke against the development Aug. 27, citing concerns over traffic, flooding and whether the "skyscraper" buildings -- proposed to be 3 stories tall -- would fit with the character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Jim Norris said he bought his house on Gibson Road 23 years ago.

"Now I find out the property I almost paid off is going to be backyard material for a condo complex," he said. "I don't think the people who have invested their lives in our community were taken into consideration. I do believe a developer is going to make a lot of money, and we're going to have to deal with the consequences."

An online petition has been circulating since Aug. 26 at change.org, urging the planning commission to reject the project.

In voting to table action on the application, commission members challenged developers to reconsider building elevations and roof pitches to better match the surrounding 1- and 2-story houses.

"Adjusting roof pitches and things like that is something that we can do," Gunzelman said. "There are always things we can do to reduce ceiling heights and roof pitches."

Commission members also requested more information about who would manage the apartment complex and details on how the wetlands would be planted and maintained.

Overall, however, they were supportive of the project.

"I am an advocate for Olde Reynoldsburg," planning commission member Steven Hicks said. "I think this project being adjacent to it is a great transition for what we want to do in Olde Reynoldsburg. It will definitely add value to our community.

"I'm in favor of the project but the 3-story issue needs to be addressed," he said.

Commission member Alex Furst agreed.

"I think this particular project adds immense value to the area and Reynoldsburg as a whole," he said. "If you moved this project just a couple miles up the road to New Albany ... they would eat this up. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Reynoldsburg."

The Sept. 17 planning commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

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