Warehouse gets the green light

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After months of debate, Groveport Village Council approved the Schottenstein Trustees’ rezoning request that will pave the way for building a large warehouse at Rohr and Pontius roads.

At its April 28 meeting, council voted 5-1 to approve rezoning 353 acres, located east of the intersection of Rohr and Pontius roads, from community commercial, rural, and planned residential multi-family apartments of six units per acre, to planned industrial park (PIP). (see sidebar below)

Council members Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, Ed Dildine, Jim Staebler, and Shawn Cleary voted for the rezoning while Ed Rarey voted against it. Rarey opposed the project because he feels it would create flooding problems for the village from stormwater run off  on Little Walnut Creek.

On April 14 the project seemed dead when council deadlocked 3-3 in its vote, which appeared to defeat the project. (Mayor Lance Westcamp could not vote to break the tie because he has farmed land within the rezoning request for many years.) However, attorney Mike Shannon, who represents Schottenstein Trustees, convinced council to reconsider its vote and to table the legislation until April 28 for further discussion.

New concessions for no build zone

At the April 28 meeting, Shannon told council the developer was willing to make two more concessions on the project. One would be to convey 20 acres along Rohr Road in the no build zone to the village to be used as a park. The other being that the developer would agree to file a request for the remaining 43 acres in the no build zone to be rezoned as agricultural.

 

Shannon also assured council and residents that the developer would take all the necessary steps to handle the stormwater run off to combat the potential flooding of Little Walnut Creek.

Finally, Shannon pointed out that the existing zoning in the area would allow for the construction of up to 1,200 high density residential units if left unchanged.

"If we get turned down (for the rezoning) we get the message that the existing zoning is what is wanted," noted Shannon.

Newport resident Ted Deaner questioned Shannon stating that other types of development could arise on the land, such as a new post office or a police station.

Charlotte Barker, also a Newport resident, said she still opposed the project and hoped that the village would make sure that all the developer’s "promises be kept with no wiggle room."

Council viewpoints

Upon hearing the new concessions regarding land in the no build zone, Staebler and Cleary, who had opposed the project originally, switched their votes on April 28 in favor of the project.

After first lauding the residents in the neighboring Newport subdivision for their efforts to question the project and shape it with concessions from the developer so it would not adversely affect their homes, Staebler said  the warehouse was the "lesser of two evils" and would be a better alternative to what the current zoning would allow.

"I think we now have a workable, acceptable plan," said Staebler, who said the turning point for his decision came when Shannon offered the new changes in the no build zone, which is across Rohr Road from Newport.

Cleary said he was concerned with the number of residential units the existing zoning could bring if not changed. He said that, coupled with the new concessions in the no build zone, swayed his vote. He added the project, with its 400 to 600 jobs, would generate a lot of income tax revenue for the village.

"But we have to monitor this project and make sure the developer holds to his promises. Someone’s going to hang for it if they don’t," Cleary cautioned.

Dildine favored the project because he thought it was the best use of the land.

"We don’t need 1,200 apartment units, gas stations or whatever else could go there," said Dildine. "We also have a unique opportunity during these hard economic times to put 400 to 600 new jobs into our local economy. It’s an opportunity to bring jobs here when most places aren’t seeing such an influx of employment opportunities."

About the warehouse project

The project proposes the construction of a 1.4 million square foot warehouse/distribution center near the intersection of Rohr and Pontius roads on land the Schottenstein Trustees have owned for more than 40 years. The proposed building would be situated diagonally on the site against the westernmost boundary of the property along Pontius Road abutting the Air East industrial park to the south.

Schottenstein Trustees’ attorney Mike Shannon has stated the building could employ between 400 to 600 workers, which could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in income tax revenue. He also said the project would not be a drain on the Groveport Madison school system.

Additionally outlined in the plan, and slated to be codified and made part of the legislation, are:

•a 64.3 acre "no build zone" along the east side of Rohr Road running nearly the entire length of the property from the eastern most property line to a point a short distance east of the Pontius Road intersection;

•a 105.4 acre conservation area between the proposed development and Little Walnut Creek to protect green space and the stream corridor (Schottenstein Trustees are in discussions to deed this conservation area over to Metro Parks);

•several landscape buffers sized and positioned to block or minimize any visibility of the proposed development from neighboring Newport Village, including a 20 foot high landscaped mound situated northeast of the building site; and

•a third of an acre reserve surrounding the two historic Ohio and Erie Canal era structures located on the northwest corner of the property with the intentions of discussing how to preserve the buildings with the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society;

•a future building site located east of Little Walnut Creek, which could include a 1.2 million square foot warehouse, cannot be developed until a development plan for that site is reviewed by the planning and zoning commission; and

•a gravity sanitary sewer would be extended to the south and west property lines.

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