The Liberty Township Board of Trustees is considering a proposal for a multi-family residential development to be developed by Hyatts Investors LLC, part of Wilcox Communities, on 50 acres south of Hyatts Road.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the board considered the rezoning of two parcels on Hyatts Road to Planned Multi-Family Residence District from their current zoning of Farm Residence District. If rezoned, a total of 231 multi-family units ranging from 1,100-1,500 square feet are being proposed for preliminary development plan approval.
“This particular site is a 50-acre piece that is essentially bordered by Hyatts Road to the north and Liberty Grand all around us,” Wilcox co-owner Jonathan Wilcox said during Tuesday’s meeting. “You have your two subareas in Liberty Grand, about 498 total two-story apartments, and then you have M/I single-family homes to our west.
“We were drawn to this site for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons we thought our use would be a good fit is it’s sort of transitional in nature as you go from kind of the higher density, multi-story apartments over to the single-family homes. And we also felt good about the fact that we weren’t aware of any other development here in the township that had the same target market of the renters by choice.”
Wilcox said the expectation would be for the units to rent for around $2,000 per month but added that with factors such as inflation being considered, they could possibly fetch more.
As part of the proposal, Wilcox would construct a connection of Hyatts Crossing with the neighboring developments, bisecting the development into two phases of development.
Wilcox added that, with the exception of Hyatts Crossing, all the roads within the development would be private, and the developers would be responsible for maintaining them. With the development, Wilcox said they would also be contributing $331,000 to the widening of Hyatts Road.
Tuesday’s meeting included a public hearing in which residents of the area stated their opinions on the rezoning considerations and the proposed development. Joe Suozzi, who lives northeast of the proposed development on Hardin Lane, said during the hearing, “I just want to reaffirm my commitment to the board that when I chose to live in Liberty Township 15 years ago, I chose it for its character. I realize that, along with growth, change comes.”
Suozzi said he has concerns that the township is growing too quickly, and he pointed out that the township’s current comprehensive plan is the only guidance the township has in evaluating future growth at this moment.
“I just wish that you take the character of northern Liberty Township (into consideration) when making these decisions,” Suozzi went on to say.
Marc Crigger, who also lives on Hardin Lane, said he moved to the area last year after spending 20 years in Upper Arlington, which he noted now looks nothing like it did when he first moved there. He expressed concerns that similar growth is going to change the landscape of the northern part of the township.
“To see what is happening in the 12 months I have lived here, along roads like Hyatts Road, Sawmill Parkway, and Steitz Road, it’s just astounding to me how quickly things can change,” Crigger said. “What I would ask is that we grow and we grow responsibly. But I think that we need to tap the breaks as it relates to the pace of the development that seems to be happening here because I think that it is such a wonderful place and such a special area.
“To see it grow into condo-ville, quite frankly, and to see these giant developments, we’re not talking about a dozen homes being built. We’re talking about hundreds of people coming to the northern end of Liberty Township who weren’t there yesterday … I’m just concerned that what brought us here might make us leave in the future.”
Following the public hearing, the trustees weighed in on their thoughts, beginning with Trustee Chairwoman Shyra Eichhorn, who applauded Wilcox’s efforts to address public concerns dating back to the meetings with the Zoning Commission.
“Looking at the plan, there have been many amendments made to it from the beginning,” Eichhorn said. “From the first zoning meeting to the second one, it looks like you very much listened to a lot of the residents’ concerns and you went back and addressed them. For all of that, I applaud you.”
However, Eichhorn stated that she has concerns with the proposal, particularly regarding the look of the development and how it fits into Liberty Township. Eichhorn asked Wilcox if what his company has developed in other places in the area, such as in Maryville and New Albany, is what can be expected should the project in Liberty Township move forward.
Wilcox responded by saying there are certain features of a Wilcox development that can’t change, such as the “garage-heavy” Eichhorn called into question. He noted that the forward garage design is part of every floor plan but said there are other things they can do “to create aesthetic interest.” He added that they are “more than willing … to roll up our sleeves and look at every part and piece.”
Following a lengthy discussion regarding some of the concerns the board has with the look and fit of the proposal, among other things, the trustees considered the appropriate next step for the proposal.
“I’m just having some struggles, so I’m trying to really think it through just from the overall of it fitting into Liberty Township,” Eichhorn said. “That’s where I’m struggling because (the developers) have done so many things right, and time is money, so I’m sitting here trying to think to myself if the changes that we would work on would make a difference in my vote or not.”
Trustee Bryan Newell said he’s alright with the layout and plan, and if they could alter some of the appearances to make the units look like the patio homes around them, he would be on board with the proposal.
Trustee Scott Donaldson, speaking to a point previously made by Newell, said the renderings for the units always look better than the finished product, and it “behooves us to get it right.”
Ultimately, the board voted to continue the discussion at its scheduled meeting on March 21.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.