A group of Plain City businessmen and residents are asking council members to explain their vote on a proposed apartment complex.
In August, council rejected an ordinance that would have rezoned 8.8 acres property on Jefferson Avenue and Perry Pike and paved the way for a 112-unit apartment complex.
The rezoning had been approved by planning and zoning, which recommended the rezoning to council.
Resident Chris Homan asked council members if they had researched the economic impact of the project before they rejected the rezoning.
Several said they did. Council member Shannon Pine, who voted to approve the rezone, agreed with Homan’s assessment that the development could have brought about $1-million over a five year period.
Council member Kerri Ferguson said she still feels the property is more valuable as a commercial development.
“Once you zone it for apartments, it is gone,” Ferguson said.
Homan said the property has been available commercially for many years and commercial developers do not want to develop there.
He added that the developer kept three acres fronting Jefferson Avenue zoned for commercial development. He said the developer would have invested in additional projects in the village.
“As far as I knew, this was a one and done project,” said Ferguson. “That was never communicated to me that there was anything other than that.”
Pine said the applicant “should have taken a little bit more time to try to convince some council members.”
Resident Steve Rice and others acknowledged that those in the audience on the night of the vote favored rejecting the rezoning. He said there were really only five or six angry speakers.
“That doesn’t speak for the village,” Rice said. “You are going to get the squeaky wheel in here. A lot of people would have loved to seen that apartment complex over there.”
Shumway said it is “absolutely ridiculous” that council members based opinion on a small group of people, many of which, he said, “don’t even live in the village, don’t have businesses in the village, that don’t have financial skin in the game in this village.”
Homan said he believes many villages would have been in favor of the project if they had known the economic impact it would have.
“I just think that the village probably would have had a little bit different view had they known the impact it could have had,” Homan said.
Shumway said that before commercial property develops, there must be enough homes to support the business and a place for employees to live.
“Everybody says ‘commercial, commercial,’” said Shumway. “Commercial is not first. That is not the trends. That’s not the way it goes.”
Shumway said he lost a good employee this week because he could not find affordable housing in the village.
“He has been seeking and seeking and seeking for housing in Plain City,” said Shumway.
Homan said there are other consequences to the way things were handled. He said when planning and zoning recommended the rezoning, the developer was “absolutely blindsided” by council’s decision.
He said he had a developer contact him the next day.
“He just asked me, ‘What exactly do they want?’” Homan said.
Mayor Darrin Lane acknowledged that since the apartment complex vote, the village has lost three potential development projects.
“I don’t know what’s caused that, but we have had three people pull out,” Lane said.
He added that he and village administrator Nathan Cahall spoke with officials from the Jonathan Alder School District.
“Just so the village knows, they are not at capacity,” Lane said. “I know that was a concern, but they are absolutely not at capacity.”
Project officials have expressed a desire to revamp the development and bring it back before council.
During the meeting, Cahall requested an executive session to discuss a pair of potential developments.
“Both projects seek development financial assistance from the village,” Cahall wrote in a letter to council.
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