Pictured is the property on Liberty Road in Delaware Township that was the topic of Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

Gary Budzak | The Gazette

The Delaware Township Zoning Commission on Wednesday rejected rezoning a property across the road from the Stratford Ecological Center.

A couple dozen people attended the meeting in the Delaware Township Hall, which sits a tenth of a mile away from the proposed rezoning. The site is 23.89 acres on Liberty Road on former cropland that is currently zoned for industrial development. The applicant wished to rezone the property to Planned Residential District.

Initially, the proposed development known as Shakti Dhara Ridge had 170 single-family, townhomes and two-story apartments when it went before the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission in October 2020. The commission gave conditional approval to the rezoning, leaving it up to Delaware Township’s Zoning Commission whether to approve or reject the zoning before it goes to the township trustees for a final decision.

Since then, the applicant has made several changes to their proposal. This latest offering had reduced the number of homes to 114 duplexes, with two retention ponds along Liberty Road. A party house and pool were also removed.

“We’ve been at this for a while,” said Gary Smith of G2 Planning at the hour-long meeting. “It took some time to sort this out. You can see the effort the applicant has made to make the township happy. It’s a much better use of the site. We throw ourselves at the mercy of the board.”

After Smith’s presentation of the new set of drawings, three of the five Zoning Commission members had questions (the other two were absent). Among them was the use of greenspace and potential runoff.

Residents had their own questions, such as the salting of the roads if the development were to be built, 100-year rain events, stream damage at Stratford, a train derailment, and increased traffic on Liberty Road and nearby Hawthorn Boulevard.

Comments from residents included that the proposal was an “ecological disaster,” the developer should have talked to the township first, and that the township wasn’t responsible for the decision to purchase property with a different intended use than it was zoned for.

There was discussion among the commission and the audience as to a proposed use of the property that would be beneficial to all parties, with homes having individual septic systems the seeming consensus, and a rezoning to Farm Residential being acceptable.

Zoning Inspector Jerry Schweller reminded everyone that the issue at hand was to either grant or reject the rezoning.

Zoning Commission member Adam Mowery then moved to reject the rezoning, and members Dave Rathje and Walt Thompson also voted to reject the rezoning.

The commission members said Delaware Township likes its open spaces and were disappointed the landowner wasn’t present at the meeting and hadn’t proposed anything else.

“Delaware Township was founded in 1808 and is home to over 2,100 people today (2017),” said the township website. “Situated in Ohio’s fastest-growing county, Delaware Township residents enjoy the benefits of country living, with numerous operational farms, while still being close to the conveniences of the city, both Delaware and Columbus.”

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].