Fairfield Homes is facing opposition for a senior housing project following the unanimous denial by the Canal Winchester zoning commission for a variance recommendation and the public outcry by Charleston Lake condominiums residents.
The proposed 1.9-acre Francis Park site is located on West Waterloo Street and zoned general commercial. The applicant asked to rezone the property to planned residential district to allow for a three-story, 50 apartment unit brick facade complex at a density of 26-plus units per acre. The current standard is four units per acre.
Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing April 12 when a number of neighboring Charleston Lake property owners questioned the appropriateness of the Fairfield Homes development, citing concerns with the height and density of the building, pond/ drainage issues, and traffic. Canal Winchester Village Council held the first of three readings on an appeal filed by the applicant to approve the rezoning following a May 24 public hearing.
At the June 7 council meeting, Lenard Gorsuch, chairman and CEO of Fairfield Homes, stated the company’s "goal is to work with all parties concerned and to take care of the citizens" served by properties developed and managed by Gorsuch.
Architect Randall Woodings said he looked at other architectural styles in Canal Winchester and used them as reference points in designing the multi-story building, such as a tower and entry porches affording the structure a "townhouse" influence within historical modeling.
"It has a more than 80 percent brick facade," said Woodings, adding the back side would resemble the front, minus entries, and end sides would not feature windows, but be outfitted with shutters.
Charleston Lake residents believe that, although senior housing is needed, the development is inappropriate for the site and council should uphold the planning and zoning commission vote against the zoning variance.
"We’re worried about the future," stated resident Don Corbett. "We’re willing to listen to facts, not approximates and maybes. It is a known fact that people who own their own properties take care of their property better than people who rent. These will be subsidized rental units."
Corbett said when he moved in he was aware the land was zoned commercial and he doesn’t have a problem with that.
"The Sunoco station next door is a great neighbor," said Corbett. "They do a very nice job of keeping up their property; but again, it’s owned, not rented. We’d love to see something like a Panera Bread or a restaurant move in next door."
Corbett admitted while he felt the Francis Park development was not appropriate for the West Waterloo location, it is a necessary component of village life.
"Does it belong? Certainly," continued Corbett, "but not at this site."
Randy Tucker, president of the Charleston Lake Home Owners Association, said the height of the building would affect residents bordering Francis Park. He expressed apprehension with the potential lack of on-site management and use of public funds offsetting rent.
Throughout the April commission hearing, members were assured by development representatives resident references are checked; routine six-month unit inspections conducted; residents must be 55 or older; visitors are allowed, but cannot stay longer than a week; and that Francis Park is not a HUD or world development project.
However, Tucker cited an alleged fluidity of project plans and financial concerns as fundamental issues that need to be addressed.