By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester residents residing in Cherry Landing are unhappy with a rezoning request by Crossroads Christian Life Center to change a tract of land from multi-family residential to general commercial.
The request, made by applicant and executive pastor Joe Miller and previously approved by the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission, was made so the church could sell the 4.73 acre parcel for future commercial development along Gender Road.
The tract is located at the southeast corner of Gender Road and the Canal Street intersection. When the commission reviewed plans for the proposed 27.8 acre church development in 2016, they encouraged the trend of continued commercial development along Gender Road to the railroad tracks.
City staff recommended the applicant’s request and commission members concurred.
However, Cherry Landing residents were at odds with the city, applicant and commission and expressed concerns over the possible extension of Bigerton Bend within the development to a commercial area, safety, and the potential for increases in crime and traffic.
“We have a great lifestyle and a safe environment,” said resident Robert Sycks at a public hearing on Nov. 20. “With the push for development, they may decide to extend Bigerton into that (commercial tract).”
City Development Director Lucas Haire said Bigerton Bend was previously designed for extension, but the decision was made many years ago and not in connection with the church project.
Regarding the current situation, Haire said, “The site plan has always shown a commercial out parcel.”
Haire added that, under the present zoning, the site could house up to 40 apartments.
“Since 2000, it’s (the site) been zoned eight apartments per acre,” said Haire.
Currently zoned AR-1 for multi-family residential, the general commercial designation would allow for retail operations, restaurants and offices and is consistent with present Gender Road zoning.
Another resident said the local crime rate has increased tremendously in the last four years and if a business access was constructed at the end of Bigerton Bend, it would create problems and contribute to the loss of the area’s small town feeling.
Resident Corey Grunkemeyer said she would not have purchased her home in Cherry Landing if she was aware it would connect with a commercial development.
“Having cars coming in from Gender Road would be a nightmare,” she said.
Sycks said a lot of changes have taken place since the original zoning was approved and suggested the city re-evaluate the situation before moving forward with the re-zoning request by Crossroads.
The ordinance amending the city’s zoning map was up for a first reading on the Nov. 20 agenda and, unless tabled, will have two more readings before council takes action.