Warehouse proposal to make its last stand

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The Schottenstein Trustees’ proposed warehouse project at Rohr and Pontius roads died, then was resuscitated and placed on legislative life support at Groveport Village Council’s April 14 meeting.

Council at first, by a 3-3 vote, defeated legislation to allow Schottenstein Trustees’ request to rezone 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). The ordinance failed because it did not receive a majority of votes and Mayor Lance Westcamp could not vote to break the tie because he has farmed 30 acres of the land within the rezoning request for many years. Council members Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, Ed Dildine supported the rezoning while Ed Rarey, Jim Staebler, and Shawn Cleary opposed it.

However, attorney Mike Shannon, who represents Schottenstein Trustees, quickly asked council to reconsider its vote and to instead table the legislation until council’s April 28 meeting. He said this would allow his client to address concerns brought up against the rezoning by council members and residents. He said "time is of the essence" to keep the deal afloat. Council voted 4-2 to reconsider, with Staebler and Cleary dissenting, and then voted unanimously to table the measure until the April 28 meeting.

About the proposed 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.

Shannon has stated the building could employ between 400 to 600 workers. He noted this would give the village’s 2 percent income tax "more bang for its buck" in generating 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 (GHPS);

•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.

Council viewpoints

Dildine said he favored the rezoning because he feels the existing zoning (which would authorize such things as gas stations, fast food outlets, strip malls, and the potential of 800 units of housing) would allow construction of developments that would not be beneficial to the community.

"My biggest concern is what could be built there today," said Dildine. "The schools can’t handle it. I don’t want to see 600 to 800 houses and a convenience store there."

He said he felt Schottenstein Trustees had made "great concessions" with the project.

Rarey opposes the project because he believes it would cause increased flooding from run off along Little Walnut Creek.

"You might as well build a dam on the creek," commented Rarey about the effect the project would have on the waterway and the village.

Staebler said the Newport subdivision has "already born the brunt" of nearby warehouse developments.

"Even though it looks acceptable on paper," said Staebler, "I can’t see moving forward on this, economic boon or not. There’s too many negatives."

Cleary said he was torn on the issue, noting he agreed the existing zoning could harm the schools, but he said the potential flooding issue was a big concern.

Residents’ viewpoints

Newport resident Ted Deaner said the PIP rezoning would hurt homes’ real estate values. He said having a PIP nearby creates a "bad stigma."

 

Charlotte Barker, also of Newport, said she "completely opposes the warehouse" citing the potential flooding issues it could create.

A petition containing the signatures of 112 Newport and neighboring subdivision residents was presented to council and Schottenstein Trustees asking that a deed restriction be placed on the proposed no build zone to officially designate it as such and that all warehouse ingress/egress be prohibited on Rohr Road.

Council will consider the legislation again at its April 28 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building, 655 Blacklick St.

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