Delaware’s City Planning Commission will hear two high-profile cases as part of its meeting on Wednesday.
If a previous town hall meeting is any indication, there may be a full house for a case regarding a proposed 4,608 square-foot Speedway gas station and convenience store on 12.9 acres at the northwest corner of U.S. 23 North and Hills-Miller Road.
Residents opposed to the development have cited a number of concerns, including long-term and overnight parking for semis, semis lined up on U.S. 23 to get into the gas station, the lack of truck fueling stations on 23, extra traffic on Hills-Miller, emergency evacuation, the appearance of the station and whether it should be at the entrance of the city, along with historical and environmental issues.
The city staff report states that Speedway bought the property in 2014, but would only develop 4.8 acres as a gas station, featuring seven fueling bays for passenger vehicles and four diesel fueling bays for semi-trucks.
“The site would be accessed by a right-in/right-out curb cut on U.S. 23 while a full-movement curb cut would be located on Hills Miller Road,” the report said.
“Do not allow the Speedway fueling station to allow semi-truck fueling, parking, etc., and do the right thing for the surrounding neighbors,” wrote Marni Molina in an email to city and Ohio Department of Transportation officials. “Please help make this corridor of U.S. 23 safe for everyday drivers who have to make do with the already-congested traffic, safe for student drivers, families dropping children off at day care and school on Hills-Miller, business travelers, vacation travelers, etc. The residents of Delaware city and surrounding area are against this development and are amazed our representatives would consider the proposal when there is adamant opposition to the Speedway fueling center. The health, safety and environmental concerns should far outweigh any developmental proposal that has been provided.”
The property is zoned as a general business district, and a gas station/convenience store is one of the permitted uses. “No parking spaces for semi-trucks are provided and no overnight parking signs would be posted throughout the site,” the staff report said. City staff has recommended a preliminary plan, with 19 conditions.
City Council has already approved a liquor permit request, but would also have to approve preliminary and final development plans in order for the Speedway to be built. If approved, construction would begin in spring 2016, and completed in six months.
The other case that has received a lot of interest is the new county courthouse at 110 N. Sandusky St. (just south of the Hayes Building). To build the five-story, 92,145 square-foot building on two acres, the Elks Building and Leffler garage would have to be demolished. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission said the Elks Building was historic, but City Council overturned the decision, saying that county commissioners could move the courthouse out of the city.
Architects for the courthouse made several visits to the Historic Preservation Commission to get its approval for the design. After adding some design elements that made the building more Italianate and less massive, the commission gave its approval.
If the planning commission approves the plans, rezoning and a street vacation of Marshall Court, it would next go to City Council. If council approves the legislation, the demolition would begin this fall, with construction starting in spring 2016.
The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday in City Council Chambers, on the second floor of City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St. After the courthouse case, the commission will hear a request to approve a final development plan for phase two of The Preserve at Quail Pass for 141 single-story apartments on 22.35 acres on the south side of Mill Run Crossing between the wetland park and Glenn Road.
The Speedway case will not start before 7:45 p.m., said City Planning Director David Efland in an email. It was suggested that a spokesman speak on behalf of a group on particular topics. Efland wrote, “The commission does not allow repeat comments on the same issue from multiple individuals.”
“The citizens of Delaware city are interested in all the activities of city planning, particularly in the absence of a master plan,” wrote resident John McGrail in reply to Efland.
The anticipated process of each case will be presentations from the staff and applicants, opportunity for the public to comment, and commission action.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.