Plans for the Winterbrooke Place subdivision continue to move forward, albeit slowly. During its meeting Monday, Delaware City Council approved the Preliminary Subdivision Plat request by Grden LLC.
Council previously approved the annexation of the land and the Preliminary Development Plan for Winterbrooke Place in June.
Proposed for the subdivision are 263 single-family lots on approximately 102 acres of land located on Peachblow Road, just east of the Belmont Place subdivision and south of the Communities at Glenross.
The lots will vary in size, with 21 lots measuring 80-by-130 feet and totaling 10,400 square feet; 130 lots at 65-by-130 feet and totaling 8,450 square feet; and 112 lots measuring at 52-by-130 feet and totaling 6,760 square feet.
During its last meeting, council discussed the Preliminary Subdivision Plat request but a vote was delayed because the necessary five favorable votes requirement was not met to suspend council’s rule that requires three readings of the ordinance before a vote.
Among the three council members to vote against suspending the rules was Councilwoman Lisa Keller, who has voiced issues with the size of some of the lots in the Winterbrooke Place proposal.
“I’m not seeing the benefit to the 50-foot lot,” Keller said of the lots during the Oct. 14 meeting. “We’re not creating a new product. It’s the same product we’re offering everywhere else, we’re just crowding more of them together.”
Michael Shade, who is the attorney representing Grden LLC and the Winterbrooke Place development, said of Keller’s request to extend the proposal to another meeting, “Time is money and delays are problematic.”
Shade pointed out the plat request was already proven to be in line with the Preliminary Development Plan by the Delaware Planning Commission, and his client can’t get to addressing other concerns with the proposal until the plat request is approved.
Following the discussions, Keller used the time set aside for council comments to say she felt it inappropriate for developers to pressure council into making decisions quicker than they feel comfortable doing so.
“Our code says we read things three times, and anything sooner than that is at our pleasure,” she said. “So, I don’t appreciate being put under pressure to vote to suspend the rules sooner than I or anyone else on this board is comfortable with doing, and I really resent that pressure.”
Keller went on to address a “zoning meeting” that happened over the weekend following that Oct. 14 meeting, one in which she said “only a select few members of this council were invited to.”
“What I see forming is a very disturbing trend of developers trying to influence not only this council, but elected bodies throughout Delaware County,” she said. “That influence is coming in the form of campaign contributions and through the support of candidates who are very developer-friendly and are being supported by developers, and I think that should be a red flag to our community and to all of us.”
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer addressed Keller’s comments during Monday’s meeting, saying he felt those comments were a personal attack on his integrity.
“If anybody has any issues or any situations where they can show that I’ve done anything improper or requested that anything improper be done, I’d like to hear about it, because I don’t think that is the case,” Shafer said, adding that he supports “good, responsible development.”
Shafer said his conversations with developers both before and since he was elected have centered around those developers wanting “the internal process with the city to be fair, consistent, predictable, and done in a timely manner.”
He said in following up on those concerns once elected, he found there were some unintentional “inefficiencies” in the process that needed to be addressed.
Shafer later added the handling of the Grden LLC proposal during the Oct. 14 meeting was an example of how not all developers and proposals are treated equally when coming before council.
“The Grden development was a Preliminary Subdivision Plat, which in many jurisdictions doesn’t even come before a legislative body; it’s an administrative decision,” Shafer said. “This project had been well-vetted earlier … It had been through our Planning Commission twice. In my opinion, there was no reason to delay that project. There is a lot more work that has to be done before the final plans come before council.”
Shafer suggested Keller was making “personal and emotional” decisions in regard to the Grden development and said the approval of the Preliminary Subdivision Plat request was “a business decision in terms of what was right for the citizens of Delaware,” adding, “there was, in my opinion, no reason to delay that project, and every time we delay a project unnecessarily, the cost of that project goes up.”
He said the added costs of the project due to delays won’t be felt by the developer but will be absorbed by the residents who ultimately buy those homes.
Following those comments, Shafer reiterated that studies — including MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission), which he said is the best indication because “they have no agenda other than providing information” — show there is a demand for the type of housing being proposed in the Grden proposal. He added that in order for economic development to happen in Delaware, businesses have to want to come to Delaware, and in order for that to happen, workers have to be able to afford to live in the city.
“The more we drive the price of housing up, the less likely that is to happen,” Shafer said.