By Linda Dillman
The long road to adding and hiring a Canal Winchester city administrator started more than a dozen years ago and finally ended when a long-serving city employee was tapped to fill the position.
Matt Peoples, who started his career in Canal Winchester in 1994 with the water reclamation department and served as the city’s director of public works was named city administrator.
“It is my privilege to introduce to you the first city administrator for the city of Canal Winchester—Matt Peoples,” said Mayor Mike Ebert during Canal Winchester City Council’s Aug. 7 meeting. “For a few months, it’ll be city administrator/public service director until we get that position squared away.”
Peoples served as the project manager for plant expansions, replacements, and rehabilitation projects. He previously scored another first when he was named the city’s first public service director in 2006, overseeing the entire public works department including water; wastewater; stormwater; urban forestry; information technology; and streets, lands and buildings.
Earlier this year, Peoples was awarded the 2022 Clyde “Butch” Seidle Public Works Servant Leader Award, sponsored by the American Public Works Association Ohio Chapter. The award recognizes individuals who serve as dedicated public works servant leaders and creators of public value over a sustained period of time.
Rezoning for apartments
A public hearing was held to discuss the rezoning of 16.36 acres—part of a larger 38.5 acre parcel—at the southeast corner of Diley and Busey roads.
The owner, Shrimangeshi LLC, is asking to amend the city’ zoning map and rezone the acreage from PCD-planned commercial district to PUD-planned unit district in order to develop a 244 multi-family apartment complex.
Properties to the east of the site are multi-family apartments, to the south it is zoned planned industrial district, to the west is the Canal Pointe Industrial Park and properties to the north are large lot, single family homes in Violet Township.
According to Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire, the city’s planning and zoning commission met in June and motioned for a recommendation that council approve the request.
A project representative told council , “It’s a scary environment right now. A lot of projects are being halted. Multi-family developments are stopping. We are bullish on this project. We know the community needs this. (In) Canal Winchester, you guys are tough to deal with; if you talk to developers in Columbus, they will tell you that. We feel very comfortable with this development and that’s why we keep pushing forward.”
Councilman Bob Clark said moving the request forward for council action is a difficult issue for him.
“I recognize the need for this type of housing in our community and I am not against that. I have an issue of taking commercial property that is so valued for our community and placing half of it in residential,” said Clark. “You have the Hill-Diley interchange. The state, county, and city spent $40 million to create the interchange for a business corridor that comes all the way up through there. It’s created a lot of good revenue for our city.”
Clark said the city is “basically out of commercial property” with the sale of a West Waterloo site to Ohio Health for a medical building.
Councilman Patrick Shea moved to table the request, which council did.
Council held the first reading of an ordinance giving the mayor and the finance department permission to proceed with an application for Ohio Public Works Commission financial assistance in reconstructing Winchester Boulevard.
According to Peoples, the project includes removal of traffic signalization at the Prentiss School intersection and installation of a roundabout at the Kroger entrance west of the existing intersection.