The Powell Planning and Zoning Commission approved the final development plan for Middlebury Crossing, the multi-use development proposed at the corner of Home and Steitz Roads, during Wednesday’s meeting. The final development plan was approved unanimously, but with a slew of conditions, however.
Under the proposed development plan, the site will include three subareas. Subarea A will be the location of the Delaware County District Library (DCDL)’s newest branch, which was approved for the site in March. Retail and office space will make up Subarea B, which will front the location along Home Road. Subarea C will be made up of a rental community that will include 32 garden apartments and 30 townhouses.
Representatives from DCDL were on hand to provide an update on the library. Michael Butler, the vice president of the DCDL board, said the Building Committee is currently working on the layout of the building, which he said will be a two-story building as of now.
Butler added the hope is to begin construction on the library later towards the end of this year with a completion date in 2021.
Asked by Commissioner Joe Jester how the size of the new branch will compare to the Orange Township branch, Deputy Director Molly Meyers LaBadie said they will be comparable, with the only difference being there won’t an outreach department in the new branch as there is in Orange Township.
Both LaBadie and Butler reiterated the existing Powell library on South Liberty Street will be kept open and operating well after the new branch is finished.
The final development plans for the library will need to be brought before the Planning and Zoning Commission for final approval.
Much of the discussion between the developers and the commission centered around a drive-thru that is shown on the west side of the stretch of retail buildings along Home Road. Members of the commission expressed concerns about the added traffic a drive-thru would bring, with lines potentially backing up into the apartment community.
Gary Smith, the architect working on the development, said there shouldn’t be any concerns about the building being occupied by chains such as McDonald’s or Wendy’s, stating the building scale and designs would never fit their branding or site requirements.
“The first preference would be to find things that have somewhat of a synergy with the entire development,” Smith said. “Not only for patrons at the library but folks who are living in the apartments. So, a place for them to walk over to. That makes both (the library and the apartments) more attractive, ultimately.”
He added, “I think there is going to be opportunity for more of that smaller, mom-and-pop-type scale.”
However, Smith did suggest coffee shop options such as Starbucks or Tim Hortons could be pursued. Commission members speculated how those popular shops, in a coffee-crazed society, would be any more beneficial in terms of keeping a drive-thru line short and not interfering with the flow of apartment traffic.
In the event the drive-thru becomes a reality within the development plan, the developers will need a certificate of appropriateness from the commission as part of the conditions of approval for the final development plan.
Jon Petz, who owns the property directly west of the proposed development, spoke during the meeting about the buffering between the apartments lining the western border of the development and his property.
Petz has been outspoken about the development since its original proposal included a gas station at the corner of the two roads. That proposal was met with considerable outcry from most all of the neighboring community. John Wicks, the developer of Middlebury Crossing, met with those neighbors following that outcry to work on a better proposal that would receive the approval of the community.
Petz, as so many have throughout the process, continued to laud the development team for their consideration of the existing community and willingness to work on a solution. Heavy mounding and tree additions have been discussed, as well as a potential fence, to appease Petz. Both Wicks and Smith said they will continue to work with Petz to ensure a sufficient barrier between the two properties is included.
Of course, before any construction can begin, the City of Powell must still approve the annexation of the land into the city. The annexation petition has been filed with Delaware County and currently sits in the 60-day waiting period before the city can approve it.
The waiting period concludes on June 18, and Wicks said he hopes to have council approve the annexation and the final development plan at the same meeting. Powell City Council will review the annexation ordinance at the June 18 meeting, with potential for final approval at the following meeting on July 2.