By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Safety concerns from Jackson Township fire officials have delayed a development plan in the city of Grove City.
At the Jan. 17 meeting, Grove City Council voted to postpone a final development plan for Seasons Grove, to be located at 1050 Lamplighter Drive. The plan calls for the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to build an 82-unit age restricted community on just over four acres of land. The living units will be inside of a three-story building.
A preliminary development plan was approved back in June of 2021. Shortly before the final plan was scheduled to be heard before council, the city’s planning commission put forth a stipulation that the developer work with the city and Jackson Township Fire Department to resolve concerns regarding emergency vehicle access. The commission added the stipulation after fire officials notified them of the problem.
According to Jackson Township Fire Chief Randy Little, the current development plan does not allow access to the back of the building. He said the city and developer cannot expect the emergency workers to operate on a narrow path.
“Our sole mission is the safety of the community,” said Little.
The chief said he believes the plan would jeopardize the safety of the residents living in the facility, as well as the safety of the firefighters.
As the plan stands, township officials say fire apparatus, including the ladder truck, would not be able to maneuver around the property.
Little said the fire department is part of the planning process in the city and he pays a lot of attention to senior housing developments, something the city is seeing more of.
“Grove City has a need for senior housing, and we welcome that,” said Little. “But we have to make sure it’s safe.”
Township fire officials would like the developer to make changes to the plan that would include an emergency access road or a way for the emergency vehicles to be able to maneuver around the entirety of the building.
The project architect, Rick Krall, with Moody Nolan, said they are working through options, but the site is already “pretty tight.”
“This certainly threw a curveball at us,” said Krall. “Putting a lane all the way around the building is nearly impossible.”
Access to the back of the building is the problem, but Krall said near the rear of the property, the grading drops, making it very difficult to fit a fire lane in that area.
Little said the fire department is following the requirements set forth by the state. He said his concern is with safety, not with the developer having to invest more money or time in the project.
“You can’t put a price on safety,” said the fire chief.
Council president Ted Berry said the city needs to provide housing options for senior citizens but said it must be right.
“We don’t want to make a mistake with a building full of seniors,” said Berry.
Councilman Roby Schottke said this has created a dilemma as it has put the developer in a tough spot, but said the issues need to be resolved before the plan is approved.
Schottke suggested postponing the vote on the development plan until the Feb. 6 council meeting. The council agreed and voted to postpone the measure.
Little said the township was waiting to review a revised plan.
According to Kyle Rauch, development director with the city, per city code, Grove City’s fire official is the safety director.
“The safety director makes the final say on these issues,” said Rauch.