It’s been a long time coming, but Wednesday evening members of Sunbury Village Council approved legislation that changes 250 acres of land between South Galena Road and I-71, just east of the closed I-71 Ohio Department of Transportation weigh station, from agricultural use to a planned commercial district.
With council members unanimously approving emergency language contained in the zoning change legislation, the zoning change became effective immediately.
Northgate Centre Development LLC will develop the land,. Northgate principal Pat Shively and partners plan a major commercial development surrounding a proposed I-71 State Route 37 interchange modification that would result in a southern interchange.
That southern interchange, giving relief to the 40-year-old I-71 U.S. 36/SR37 interchange, would connect the core of the village on a new roadway, Sunbury Parkway, built completely within village limits on recently annexed land. Sunbury sanitary sewers and the Sunbury wastewater treatment Plant would service Northgate Center Development.
Wednesday’s vote approving the zoning change did not come easy. In November, members of the Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission approved the zoning change following a public hearing that drew a large crowd of mostly Berkshire Township residents opposing the Northgate Center development.
On Jan. 6 Village Council members held another public hearing, and a first reading of an ordinance that would ratify the zoning commission’s recommendation. Due to public concerns about the development’s impact on nearby residential neighborhoods, the ordinance was tabled. On Jan. 20, the zoning change request was remanded back to the zoning commission.
Members of the zoning commission increased building and pavement setback standards for a portion of the commercial property adjacent to the Cheshire Estates residential development and along North Galena Road, codified a graduated building height standard, and strengthened additional building and parking standards that the Northgate development would be required to adhere to. Zoning held another public hearing, approved the amended PCD agreement, and sent it back to council.
Wednesday’s council meeting opened with a fourth public hearing on the controversial zoning change application, and it drew roughly the same audience as the previous public hearings – most opposed to the request and the proposed Northgate Center development.