By Linda Dillman
After months of discussion, a request to amend zoning for two Canal Winchester parcels at the corner of Hayes and Lithopolis roads and along Oregon Road was up for a final vote before Canal Winchester City Council
But the news was not good for the applicant, Westport Homes, as council rejected the rezoning request on March 18 by a 4-3 vote with council members Bob Clark, Mike Coolman, Bruce Jarvis and Mike Walker voting against the measure.
The proposed Middletown Farms site—with homes in the $350,000 to $450,000 range on land owned by the Dwight A. Imler Revocable Living Trust comprised of nearly 80 acres—was initially presented in spring 2018 and up for action by the planning and zoning commission in October.
The commission unanimously forwarded the request to council for approval at that time, albeit with conditions involving maximum lot coverage and front-loaded garage setback. Before the ordinance appeared before council for final approval, it was tabled at the request of Westport Homes representative Jack Mautino.
One of the major sticking points sending the developer back to the drawing
board multiple times were modifications requiring a garage set back of a minimum footage behind the front line of a home’s livable area. Also of concern to some council members was a perception that the Canal Winchester housing market was hitting a saturation point.
However, when it came time for the final vote, Jarvis felt the development would be more acceptable if the home designs were in a higher price range and not part of a package offering.
“Maybe we’re dreaming a little bit,” said Jarvis. “The bottom line is we may have gone too far too fast in the past. The product (Westport Homes) is good. The concessions are reasonable.”
Jarvis said the development might be more palatable if the homes were custom built and not represented anywhere else.
“What I had envisioned was something a little more upscale,” said Coolman. “More executive style home with a greater square footage and acreage, even though this is a nice stepping stone to what we currently have. I don’t think it’s a big enough step.”
Councilman Patrick Lynch, who voted for the rezoning, pointed out council revised and tightened up the city codes and said as hard as they were, Westport met them.
“This is a step above what we already have,” said Lynch. “They’ve done what we asked. This provides an upgrade in our community. It makes us more diverse.”
The property was initially annexed into Canal Winchester in February 2005. A portion of the property was zoned exceptional use (EU), while the remainder was zoned planned residential district (PRD).
The request was a two-part action—rezone a 11.9 EU parcel within the site to PRD and approve the preliminary development plan and development text for the entire 79 acre site.