Saltzgaber Road warehouses proposal faces opposition

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Two warehouses proposed for Saltzgaber Road have hit a snag.

On June 3, the Groveport Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 to not recommend a proposal from Paul Hemmer Companies to build a 275,000 square foot warehouse and a 240,000 square foot warehouse on 37.6 acres located on the east side of Saltzgaber Road south of Groveport Road.

The proposal now goes to full Groveport City Council for consideration where it would need five votes out of six for approval since the planning and zoning commission did not recommend the project. Council will vote on the ordinances regarding the project at its June 24 meeting.

As part of the proposal, Saltzgaber Road could be widened to three lanes with a 100 foot diameter truck turnaround cul-de-sac placed on the south end of the road near Toy Road. Also, a 225 foot (westbound) and a 150 foot (eastbound) left turn lane could be provided from Groveport Road to Saltzgaber Road as well as an 125 foot (northbound) left turn lane on Saltzgaber at Groveport Road.

Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst said about 440 feet of Saltzgaber Road is within the city of Groveport while the remaining portion of the road is in Madison Township. The road has a 48 foot right of way and the proposed improvements would widen the right of way to 60 feet. The proposed cul-de-sac would not be a dead end as cars and emergency vehicles could still pass through.

The developer would pay for the road improvements.

“We would require the developer to pay for any off-site improvements required for their development,” Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall said previously. “The only items we (the city) would pay for are those improvements responding to background traffic.”

Adam Hemmer, of Paul Hemmer Companies, said the road improvements would take place while the warehouses were being built and that these improvements, as well as the accompanying water and sewer amenities, would enhance the area. He also said the design of the buildings calls for the buildings to have a retail appearance rather than “an industrial look.”

“We did our best to mitigate the buildings’ visual impact,” said Hemmer.

According to the Saltzgaber Road warehousing project’s development plan, if council approves the project, work on the road improvements and first warehouse could begin in the second half of 2019 and work on the second warehouse could start in the second half of 2020.

Speaking at the planning and zoning meeting, Toy Road resident Laurie Lyles said she and her neighbors have worked with officials for 15 years to try control traffic on Toy, Saltzgaber, and Swisher roads. She said this proposed project would compound the area’s traffic problems.

“When do the residents become more important than warehouses?” asked Lyles.

Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp, who is chairman of the planning and zoning commission, said he voted against the proposal due to traffic and safety concerns.

“It would put a lot of people and traffic on Groveport Road and other nearby roads,” said Westcamp. “I like the proposed road improvements, but I don’t think they solve the problems of congestion and truck traffic.”

Councilwoman Becky Hutson, who serves on the planning and zoning commission, said she opposed the plan because she feels it does not comply with the city’s Gateway Corridor Plan for the area.

“Plus, our residents are telling us they don’t want any more warehouses and that they want something different from warehouses,” said Hutson.

The city’s Gateway Corridor Plan addresses redevelopment along two of the main roadway corridors into town: the South Hamilton Road corridor between U.S. 33 and Bixby Road; and the west Groveport Road corridor from State Route 317 west to Swisher Road.

The west Groveport Road corridor currently is a mix of warehouses, small businesses, and residences. It features two areas for redevelopment: Groveport Road from Swisher Road to State Route 317; and Saltzgaber Road from Groveport Road south to Toy Road. The 37 acre tract on the east side of Saltzgaber Road at Groveport Road is “one of the few remaining vacant parcels in the immediate area,” according to the Gateway Corridor Plan.

Groveport Finance Director/Assistant Administrator Jeff Green has stated the Gateway Corridor Plan helps the city address: recommended land use, appropriate zoning, overall aesthetic, what types of commercial development would best complement the existing industrial development, and what the best uses are for vacant land.

The Gateway Corridor Plan considers commercial development that would be compatible with existing industrial and commercial development. This could include restaurants, gas stations, last-mile logistics providers and mixed-use flex space.

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