Apartment need questioned

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At Monday’s meeting, Marysville Council heard a first reading for Kenmore Place, a proposed 264-unit apartment complex. Above, the complex is proposed for 18.76 acres on Coleman’s Crossing Boulevard, behind the Meijer store. The complex will have a clubhouse and 11, three-story buildings, seen below.

(Photos submitted)

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“What’s our target?”

That was the question asked by Marysville City Council member Mark Reams at Monday night’s meeting.

At the meeting, council heard plans for a pair of apartment communities—the 143-unit Redwood Apartments, proposed for the southeast corner of the Scott Farm Boulevard and Route 4 intersection and the 264-unit Kenmore Place, proposed for land behind Meijer on Coleman’s Crossing Boulevard.

In a 6-1 vote, council approved rezoning for 25.66 acres, paving the way for the Redwood Apartments. Reams voted in opposition.

Council heard a first reading on a rezoning of 18.76 acres for Kenmore Place. The property is currently zoned Special District One. Developers are asking it to be rezoned Planned Unit Development.

“I just want to ask the question, again, when we are looking at multi-family housing, ‘What’s the target? How much is too much?’” Reams asked. “For me, I think we have already reached what’s appropriate.”

He said the city has about 2,100 multi-family units with about 2,000 more approved. He said he is, “not convinced we have a need to approve any more for a while.”

“That is a huge dent in our housing market,” Reams said. “That will take care of the need for years.”

Council member Debra Groat said she understands the need for balance, but trusts developers have evidence they will be able to fill the units, otherwise they wouldn’t invest in the projects.

“Any of this is a gamble,” Groat said. “If industry collapses, if the economy goes south, any of this is a gamble. But I would propose that the gamble the developer is making puts our gamble at a smaller level.”

Reams said his concern is less about the need for apartments and more about the strain those residents cause on city services. He said it costs the city more money to service a multi-family development than the city makes in revenue.

City Engineer Jeremy Hoyt said that while people do cost money, “it is way better to do multi-family than single family, by far, from a city service perspective.”

Reams said that based on the 2010 census, Marysville has more rental properties than other communities in the state or nation. He said he is not arguing whether the city does or doesn’t need additional housing, just that the city has more rental units than other communities.

Mayor J.R. Rausch explained that the number is skewed because the city has many single-family homes used by rental agencies. He said single-family rental properties and multi-family apartment complexes need to be considered differently.

Rausch said the city has 7,700 houses and 2,100 multi-family units in the city. He said that with the approved and identified projects, about 28% of the city’s housing would be multi-family units. Joe Thomas, with Metro Development and a trustee for the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, said the national average is about 40% multi-family housing. He said that jobs do not come if there is no housing.

City Manager Terry Emery confirmed Thomas’ assertion. He said the city’s need for housing is impacting economic development, specifically mentioning that it has been a stumbling block for the city’s Innovation Park.

“One of the key items working against us is the lack of housing,” Emery said. “There are companies looking at the site and they are already aware of the fact that we are a little bit deficient in housing.”

In addressing the Kenmore Place developer, council member Scott Brock said there is a danger in rezoning a parcel to accommodate a specific project.

“While I think that your development looks very nice, I think council’s responsibility, when looking at rezoning, is to concentrate on the appropriate land use,” Brock said.

He said he believes the Kenmore Place apartments would add value to the city. He said the concern would be that if the property is rezoned and the project fails, the land is still zoned for a planned unit development. At that point, it would be difficult for developers to attract commercial development and council would not be able to have a way to stop another, potentially less desirable project.

“I think our role is to make sure we are looking at what is the appropriate land use of that property, regardless of the development that is going there,” Brock said.



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