Delaware City annexations anger township residents who don’t want unfettered growth in the area

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Referendum petition campaign, lawsuit and Opposition website It followed efforts by the city of Delaware to annex more than 200 acres of farmland from neighboring towns to develop it into high-density housing.

Citizen-led challenges illustrate the backlash some communities face due to the ever-changing landscapes in developing regions. The need for affordable housing in Delaware County, one of the fastest-growing counties in Ohio, comes at a time when development — including an Intel chip manufacturing plant under construction in neighboring Licking County — is likely to put further pressure on This is called workforce housing.

The Delaware City Council last year approved a rezoning request for about 230 acres northwest of Routes 36/37 and 521, just east of the city. This was before the land was annexed to the city.

Because the property in question was at the time in Brown and Delaware townships, Tom Davis, an adjacent property owner, filed a lawsuit against the city. Davis argued, in part, that the city of Delaware had no authority to rule on zoning outside its boundaries.

The land has since been annexed to the city, making that part of the lawsuit moot, said attorney Joseph Miller, who represents Metro Development LLC. But the lawsuit remains open, with Davis still challenging other elements of the project. A ruling on an injunction to stop or delay the project will likely be issued later this year in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

Meanwhile, other residents have begun circulating a petition that needs 1,600 signatures by February 6 to put the annexation issue on the November ballot. But the effort did not reach 500 signatures.

So their remaining strategy now is to oppose the rezoning. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for February 26.

What is the significance of Delaware City annexing land from neighboring towns?

The proposed development will have consequences for property owners closest to it and for others, including motorists traveling on roads in the area.

An appraiser working for one of those landowners said the development would reduce the value of nearby farmland, arguing that the project is too large for the area and that a road and other improvements should precede construction.

Ross Porter, who concluded his report for Joseph A. Porter & Associates noted that the proposed 1,168 residential units – including 811 apartments – would lead to soil erosion, drainage problems, and significant traffic and noise for residents: “It’s putting the cart before the horse.” his clients, other landlords, and other issues.

The objections are fueled by growing discontent over growth, traffic and crowded schools throughout the county, especially in central and northern Delaware County. Southern towns, largely built-up, have raised concerns about unchecked growth and lack of thoughtful planning.

A woman wrote a letter to the Dispatch last week, questioning the “price of progress” and transformation in Lewis Centre, a few miles south of the proposed housing, where she grew up.

Porter said he believes many are simply fed up and concerned that developers exercise too much power over administrators.

“They say, ‘You can’t come here and do your best for something (farmers) have worked on for years,'” Porter said.

Davis, the plaintiff suing the city of Delaware, lives with his wife on about 110 acres next to the proposed housing project. He leases 72 acres of it to a farmer to grow soybeans. He said he is not opposed to growth, just not high-density growth.

“We always considered (the surrounding land) to be single-family homes,” Davis said. “Even with single-family homes, it’s going to have a big impact. It’s changing.”

“I think you have to have a good plan, and you can’t let developers get out of control,” he said.

Davis also criticizes the city’s master plan, which calls for single-family homes in that area.

“They don’t care how they get there,” he said of government officials’ approach to meeting the housing need. “They just do these things.

“It gets really annoying when people don’t follow the law,” Davis said. He said about litigation: “No one objects at all because it is expensive.”

The housing shortage in central Ohio is an ongoing problem

Delaware City Councilwoman Caitlin Frazier said the housing shortage justifies the project.

“When we looked at some of the data, we’re trending about 9,000 homes behind the population pace in Central Ohio,” Frazier said, adding that the deficit will rise to 20,000 homes in the next 10 years. “But not everyone can or wants to live in a single-family home.”

Trey Geller, president and CEO of Metro Development, agreed, calling the opposition essentially “fear of the unknown versus reality.”

“If we don’t provide the housing that’s needed now, we’re going to have a real problem later,” Geller said. “If you keep saying no to everything, you’re going to end up with home prices rising because there’s more demand than supply. If you don’t have growth, you’re going to stagnate.”

Delaware County Treasurer Don Ranke, who lives in Powell’s area, said he supports growth, but only when he mixes a diverse mix of housing stock with new businesses and industry to support it.

Ranke also denounced the decline of towns due to annexation.

“Not only should they survive, they should thrive,” Ranke said of the towns. “The only way they can do this is to maintain their borders without entering cities and annexing their lands.”

Ranke proposes revenue-sharing agreements with towns, which have no legal authority under state law to enact an income tax. He noted that the city of Delaware would reap millions of dollars in city income tax from residents of the proposed project and a one-time development fee of about $15,000 per unit from Metro Development.

The city of Delaware is also seeking to increase the current 1.85% income tax on the March primary ballot, which applies to income earned by resident individuals and resident businesses; and non-resident individuals and non-resident companies that earn income in the city. Votera is required to approve an additional 0.50% income tax for a new total of 2.35%. The 0.50% increase will go to Recreation and Parks (0.15%) and Public Services (0.35%).

dnarciso@dispatch.com

This article originally appeared on the Columbus Dispatch: Delaware County annexations face criticism over quality of life issues

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