By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council approved a developer’s plan to build two warehouses along South Hamilton Road.
Council’s vote was unanimous, except for Councilman Shawn Cleary who abstained because he is employed by AEP, which still owns the land where the warehouses will be built.
The Pizzuti Companies plan to build the two warehouses on 44.4 acres at 4500 S. Hamilton Road. One warehouse would be 324,000 square feet and the other would be 252,000 square feet. Traffic going in and out of the development will use the traffic signal at South Hamilton Road (State Route 317) and Higgins Boulevard/Director’s Boulevard. A traffic study was done and the plan calls for improvements to, and modernization of, that intersection.
Groveport Development Director Jeff Green said the property has a 15 year property tax abatement.
Phil Rasey, vice president of development for the Pizzuti Companies, said the buildings will be “last mile” distribution centers with multiple tenants. (“Last mile” refers to the final leg of the delivery of products to customers’ homes or businesses.)
Prior to the vote, council expressed concerns about the potential for increased traffic on South Hamilton Road generated by the project. Also, some council members believe the city’s residents do not want more warehouses in that area.
Councilman Ed Dildine supports the project, but said traffic is a problem in that area.
“One day it took me 10 minutes to drive from Firehouse Lane to U.S. 33 and this was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon when school was not in session,” said Dildine. “We have to make sure we keep traffic flowing as best as is possible. To put more traffic on State Route 317 (South Hamilton Road) will have an impact.”
Dildine encouraged the developer to make the South Hamilton Road and Higgins Boulevard/Director’s Boulevard intersection improvements at the same time it constructs the warehouses.
“Doing that will make things easier,” said Dildine.
EMH&T engineer Larry Creed said of the Pizzuti project, “For the amount of acreage on the site, it is not a high traffic generator.”
Creed said the traffic study observed four peak hours at six intersections, from Homer Ohio Lane to U.S. 33, for South Hamilton Road in the area – morning, afternoon, end of the school day, and business shift changes. The study also accounted for the potential of a future occupant at the former K-Mart warehouse.
Creed said the main problem is with traffic from the South Hamilton Road/U.S. 33 interchange backing up. This interchange is outside of Groveport’s jurisdiction.
Green said existing zoning allows for warehouses to be built on the South Hamilton Road site and that the buildings fit with the city’s Gateway Corridor Plan. He said if retail businesses were built there it could create continuous traffic all day on South Hamilton Road.
An added element to the traffic situation on South Hamilton Road is that council is considering approving the creation of a 20 mph school zone during restricted hours at Groveport Madison High School.
When asked if he thinks this school zone would worsen the traffic problems on the road, Dildine said, “I believe where the school zone will be should not add to the congestion. The congestion usually starts north of Eastland Career Center. I have seen it backed up to the high school, which means they would fall into the school zone and should be traveling slow anyway. I will always promote safety. Also, if we see the school zone is a problem, we can always change it, such as to a smaller area, time adjustment, or elimination, but I’m not willing to sit and do nothing while we are in the middle of updating that area.”