By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Jackson Township residents attended a recent Grove City Council meeting to express their concerns over a possible annexation case.
The council voted to approve a resolution that states the city could provide municipal services to 98 acres of land, located north and south of Rensch Road, if the land is annexed into the city from Jackson Township. Municipal services include police and fire, water, sanitary sewer, and solid waste collection.
The property is commonly called the Trapp Farm, as it has been owned by the Trapp family. Residents said they received a letter regarding the annexation of the church on Trapp Farm and are concerned this could pave the way for commercial or warehouse space.
Resident Christi McClellan said this is a rural area and the residents want to live peacefully.
“This will have a significant adverse impact on the health and well being of the persons living in the area,” McClellan told the council members.
She said noise, light pollution, and wildlife conservation should be taken into consideration when deciding on possible zoning changes for the property.
“We request absolute clarity in zoning consideration,” said McClellan.
According to Kyle Rauch, Grove City’s development director, the developer is not planning to propose a warehouse or distribution center. They are proposing a data center, with a maximum footprint of 250,000 square feet on a 98-acre parcel. Rauch said large setbacks and landscaping are planned so the center would be less visible.
“What we are trying to do is preserve the character of the area but allow for the owner of the parcel to use the property as desired,” said Rauch. “We are trying to balance the rights of both the public and the property owner.”
Resident Rob McCarty said it seems more appropriate to build a data center along State Route 665, in an already-developed area.
“Why would you put a data center in the middle of nowhere? Right next to a residential area,” said McCarty who suggested placing the center across from the county landfill.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage told residents that it is not the city requesting the annexation.
“Just to be clear, the city is not doing this,” said Stage. “The city has nothing to do with it, other than the zoning. The Trapp’s have owned the property for many generations, and they have the right to sell it. They have the right to have it annexed.”
According to Clerk of Council Tami Kelly, the Rensch Road property has a zoning classification of suburban residential in the township. It would come into the city at the most comparable zoning classification as required by city code.
Councilwoman Christine Houk explained that currently, they are just dealing with a formality piece of legislation.
“If this property were to be annexed, these are the city services that would be available to the parcel,” said Houk explaining the legislation that council acted on.
She said many steps would occur before the property could become a data center.
This includes changes to the zoning code.
Council president Ted Berry said zoning changes would need to come before council.
“This is only a service agreement now,” said Berry. “We will get to decide what goes into that land.”
Glen Dugger, an attorney with Smith and Hale in Columbus who is handling the annexation, said that they are early in the process and there will be many public hearings on the matter.
“It is an extensive process,” he said.
Dugger did tell residents that the data center would have no significant truck traffic and said there will be community outreach efforts.
If you look at page 27 of the Grove City 2050 development plan found here https://www.grovecityohio.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2018-01-19_COUNCIL_APPROVED.pdf , you’ll see that despite council making it sound like this isn’t a done deal, the long term plan for the areas west of GC is “economic development.” That’s light industrial. So, I could be wrong, but it sounds like this will go ahead, regardless of feedback from area residents, but we’ll see.