CW City Council approves rezoning of church land

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Crossroads Christian Life Center is moving ahead with its 27.8 acre Gender Road church development after getting the green light to rezone a small frontage parcel from multi-family residential to general commercial.
While it was not the decision nearby Cherry Landing residents wanted, they hope the next stage concerning the church-owned land near their development will take them into consideration.

The rezoning ordinance, approved by Canal Winchester City Council at its Dec. 18 meeting, generated interest from the Cherry Landing community due to a long-standing Canal Winchester area plan that includes a roadway connecting the Gender Road site to the development’s Bigerton Bend.

Previous ordinance readings drew large crowds to the council meetings and prompted comments by residents worried that the city’s 2000 plan would eventually lead to increased traffic and potential crime in their neighborhood.

“Seventeen years ago, there was a vision that all the land between the church (site) and Cherry Landing was going to be a large community,” said resident Nat Floyd. “Times have changed and that plan also changed. What has occurred since those plans were drawn on an empty map has been significant. A tight-knit community evolved out of Cherry Landing.”

While homeowners did not ask council to deny the rezoning request, they hoped council would table it to allow for more discussion between interested parties.

“The residents of Cherry Landing have reached out to Crossroads Church to find a solution that not only satisfies the city’s need to alleviate church traffic on Sundays, but also address the numerous concerns from the residents of Cherry Landing,” said Floyd. “The church has graciously agreed to look into other options, but needs time due to the holidays. The residents have even presented another option that would handle the flow of traffic that is brought on by the church without having to complete the road.”

Though Floyd alleged church representatives were amenable to investigating other options regarding the connector road, lead pastor Tim Moore told council they are still asking to move forward with the rezoning request.

“We feel it is in the best interest for ourselves,” said Moore, who added the church has repeatedly been approached by apartment developers attracted to the 4.7 acre out parcel. “We’ve never been interested in that (apartments). It’s not even our desire. We believe it (commercial) will be the most beneficial for the city.”

The rezoning for the out parcel allows for retail operations, restaurants, and offices to be potentially developed on the site.

Council President Steve Donahue emphasized that the ordinance was limited to the out parcel rezoning and not the road. If it was tabled, it would be at the request of the applicant—not council.

Future changes to the design/site plan could also be made by the applicant before seeking approval by the city.

Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon said there was not one criterion the ordinance met that would preclude it from being approved.

“We have met with the Cherry Landing homeowners and are excited to explore options,” said executive pastor Joe Miller, “but what we’re talking about is rezoning the parcel. The road is the road. We want to meet with the homeowners association, but at this point, we need to move forward with rezoning.”
Council will meet on Jan. 2 at 6 p.m. for its annual organizational meeting, but will not meet in regular

work/council session until Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. at Canal Winchester Town Hall, located on the northwest corner of High and Waterloo streets.

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