Review delayed for Lifestyle Communities' UMCH site proposal

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Lifestyle Communities has submitted a 473-page plan to build 730 residences on the United Methodist Children's Home property in the heart of Worthington.

A proposal by property-management company Lifestyle Communities to build 730 residences on the site of the former United Methodist Children's Home residential facility at 1033 N. High St has been delayed for review until at least January, according to Worthington officials.

A 473-page document that included a plan to rezone the property to a planned-unit development was submitted to the city Oct. 5.

Previous story:Lifestyle Communities plan proposes 730 homes at United Methodist Children's Home site

But the development proposal’s review, which had been scheduled at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Worthington Architectural Review Board and Municipal Planning Commission, first was delayed to Dec. 10 and then delayed again until January, both times at the request of Lifestyle Communities, according to city planning and building director Lee Brown.

“They made an application in October to originally go in November, and then they asked for December and then December to January,” Brown said.

Brown said Lifestyle Communities did not indicate a reason for the delayed proposal and that an exact date for the review hasn’t been determined. The ARB and MPC are scheduled to meet Jan. 14 and 28.

If the proposal were approved by the ARB, it would go to Worthington City Council.

The proposed development, which includes a combination of apartments, townhouses and single-family homes, would span nearly 40 acres. Lifestyle officials noted in their proposal that it would address a need for more housing options in Worthington.

But the project has drawn opposition from some residents who desire more green space and less building density in the area.

City Council has received more than 100 letters from residents detailing their thoughts about the proposal since the application’s submission in October, according to public comments for the project posted on worthington.org.

For example, resident Mark White wrote he was concerned about traffic congestion and the “burden” the new development would place on city services. 

“We don't want to see our community be saturated with apartments and we feel traditional housing/condo units (are) more appropriate along with more green space for community events,” he wrote. 

Resident Julie Miller said the proposed project “does not belong” in Worthington in her letter.

“Building a community this size that is lacking in character will bring down the value of our homes, cause more traffic congestion and will be detrimental to our already overpacked school system,” she stated. “In short, (the project) will ruin Worthington forever.”

Council member David Robinson said the proposal in its current state does not address the concerns of residents.

“I don’t believe their current proposal is a serious proposal,” he said. “If so, it represents a real misreading of the Worthington public.” 

This is Lifestyle's second effort to develop the 38-acre site on the west side of High Street, just north of downtown Worthington.

The United Methodist Children’s Home residential facility closed in December 2010 at 1033 N. High St. in Worthington.

However, it is the first plan Lifestyle officials formally submitted to the city, Brown previously told ThisWeek.

In 2015, the company presented a plan to the community to build about 350 apartments and about 250 patio houses, townhouses and larger single-family residences on the site. But those plans were not submitted to the city as a development application at the time, Brown said.

Lifestyle dropped the plan after considerable opposition from residents, most of whom said the development was too dense and contained too many apartments.

Previous story:Myers: LC ‘lied’ about UMCH plans

Other plans have come and gone, as well.

Earlier this year, OhioHealth withdrew a plan to build a medical facility on a portion of the property.

Previous story:OhioHealth scuttles plan for UMCH site in Worthington

Residents also opposed an earlier plan to build a grocery store on the site, which has sat largely unused for a decade after the United Methodist Church closed the children's home there. The residential facility was closed in December 2010.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve