By Linda Dillman
A line in the sand is being set by Canal Winchester residents who want the city to slow down the growth of warehouses just as another developer is petitioning on behalf of members of the Schacht family for an annexation change to build two more.
Before Canal Winchester City Council during an Aug. 2 work session was an ordinance asking the city to enter into a pre-annexation agreement with Dale Schacht, Teresa Schacht, and Schacht trustee James Maston for property located at the intersection of Bixby and Rager roads and U.S. 33.
NorthPoint Development manager Marc Gloyeske and Montrose Group economic development director Nate Green spoke on behalf of NorthPoint, which is also a party in the agreement with the Schacht family for the 70-acre parcel.
The Schachts plan to sell their property to Northpoint, which intends to re-zone the site to limited manufacturing in order to develop and build a commercial and/or industrial development with two 550,000-plus square-foot structures.
If the city would turn down the request, the petitioners have the option of annexing the property into Columbus. The site is split between the Canal Winchester and Groveport Madison school districts, which would need to sign off on any abatement agreements.
Councilman Pat Lynch asked what assurances can the city receive that once the buildings are complete motorists won’t see “just big white boxes” along U.S. 33 in Canal Winchester.
“There’s a lot of lot coverage and only 10 percent greenspace,” said Lynch regarding preliminary site plans.
Gloyeske acknowledged the shape of the property will cause the buildings to sit close to the highway, but reported that six-foot-high land berms topped with trees and/or fencing will help mask the appearance.
“One thing we’re going to do is we’re going to develop a really detailed planting schedule on the south side along 33,” said Gloyeske.
Residents at the meeting were unanimous in their frustration with the idea of another industrial warehouse development.
Michael Barr, a cousin of the Schacht family, and his wife Nancy, live in a renovated farmhouse near the proposed project where Barr farms 33 acres of corn, soybean and wheat.
“My wife and I are the only ones there, but it’s got to be about the safety,” said Michael. “The noise and pollution from trucks is understated. It’s not a good plan. The threat of going to Columbus is just a threat.”
Resident Diane Gross acknowledged development is necessary, but called the idea of adding more warehouses “insane.” She wants the city to place a moratorium on industrial development.
“My kids won’t live here because of U.S. 33,” said Gross. “They call Canal Winchester, Obetz, and Groveport ‘Warehouse City.’ Listen to the people. Is there anything else you can do? Don’t ruin it with all these warehouses.”
Angie Halstead said it was “heartbreaking” for her to see the city continue to bring warehouses into Canal Winchester. She asked why it is the only vision council has for the city.
“U.S. 33 is not going to be able to handle this,” said Halstead. “We are not an industrial community. Why can’t we just stop and see that this is not the way. Just slow down please.”
In addressing the issue of a moratorium, Councilman Will Bennett said he heard that a moratorium could prove more harmful for the community and have unintended consequences overall.
Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said the reputational harm of communities enacting moratoriums is difficult to recover from and could take years. The consequences include lawsuits from property owners not able to sell their land and businesses avoiding communities with moratoriums.
According to the agreement, the property and the project—which borders both Columbus and Canal Winchester—would benefit from city services. It is currently located in Madison Township, which would continue to receive property tax for the development.