By Hannah Poling
Zoning requests were discussed at the February meeting of the Westland Area Commission.
Sarajane Steffes, from National Church Residences, presented the request to commissioners.
The property in question is located at 5719 West Broad St., at the southeast corner of Galloway Road, and includes 3.95 acres of undeveloped land. National Church Residences would like to build a four-story, 92-unit apartment complex for senior citizens.
To qualify for housing in the complex, residents must be 55 or older and must make less than $42,000 a year with no health requirement. These residences will feature a community room, community kitchen, community fitness center, a screened in porch and free transportation five days a week for its residents.
The National Church Residences requested four variances for the property. The first request is to reduce the number of required parking spaces. According to Steffes, since the property is tailored toward seniors, they do not need the required 1.5 parking spaces per unit as many of their residents do not drive or use the free transportation.
The next variance request was to increase the height of the building from its currently allowed 35 feet to 50 feet to allow for the four-story building design. The designers have looked at options to make the building shorter to comply with the current allowances, but have thus far not found a successful solution.
The other two variances are requesting reduced setback lines on Galloway Road and West Broad Street. National Church Residences want to reduce the setback from West Broad Street to the building from 80 feet to 67 feet and 11 inches and the setback from Galloway Road from 60 feet to 8 feet.
The main concern the commissioners had with the request is if there were an expansion on Galloway Road, would there be enough room with the building closer to the street to add lanes. Steffes showed the commissioners a mock up of what the design would look like with lanes added to Galloway Road to show that they believe there is still plenty of available space for expansion within their design.
There is also a stream corridor protection zone on the property, which adds a nice feature for the residents, but also limits the opportunity to shift the building to make it fit into the space without obtaining a variance.
“This site is primed for senior housing with so many amenities right near by,” said Steffes.
The zoning committee opposed the application 1-3. However, the motion for the variances passed 8-4 with the Westland commissioners.
The same applicant also made a request to rezone the property from commercial to residential. The National Church Residences want to have 23 units per acre and believes that density of units is in line with what was approved two years ago. The rezoning motion was also passed 8-4.
In other news, newly-appointed city council members Lourdes Barroso de Padilla and Nicholas Bankston attended the meeting to introduce themselves to the commissioners.
Barroso De Padilla is a bilingual first generation Cuban-American who was born and raised on the eastside of Columbus and attended the Columbus public school system. She has worked for City Year through AmeriCorps for over 20 years. Barroso De Padilla wants advocacy for the people who have been “left behind.”
Bankston is a native of Columbus and a graduate of Ohio State University. He is the president and CEO of Gladden Community House, which stabilizes families and builds a thriving neighborhood and community.
“I came to say thank you to you all,” said Bankston. “The commission is the resident experts here and it’s imperative to work together so the decisions I make are centered on our city.”