April 3, 2022
Along the northside of Long Road, American Homes for Rent Development (AMH) intends to create Hampton Meadows, a neighborhood of 117 rental houses on 59 acres straddling the Franklin/Fairfield County line.
The property is comprised of three different parcels – two zoned for agricultural use (combined equal 38.495 acres) and the third for residential lots (21.079 acres). To proceed with the development, Pickerington City Council must grant the developer’s request to rezone the agricultural areas to residential and change the zoning on the residential parcel to allow for more than one home per five acres.
On April 5 at 7:15 the city will hold a public hearing in the council chambers of City Hall (100 Lockville Road) at which time community members will be invited to speak on the proposed rezoning.
Following the public hearing, the councilmembers will convene their regularly scheduled meeting which will include a vote on the rezoning. If the councilmembers vote to deny the request, the issue will proceed no further.
If the council votes to approve the proposal, the rezoning will appear on the agenda for the April 19 and May 3 meetings for the council to vote on it a second and third time. This allows more opportunity for community involvement. However, if the councilmembers deem the issue as a more immediate concern, they can waive the three-reading requirement.
On March 3, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommend that the council deny the rezoning, citing the city code. The code states that for outlying areas of the Pickerington, the city should preserve farmland as well as any property with “significant natural features such as wetlands, forest, hillsides and other open spaces.”
Representing AMH, attorney Molly Gwin told the commission that Pickerington’s Comprehensive Plan supports the construction of housing in that location. Hampton Meadows would be consistent with neighboring properties.
Brad and Peggy Woodward are the owners of the residential parcel.
Bob said that they bought the property in 1997 to build a homestead for themselves. They intended to divide the remaining land into five-acre plots but that “Franklin County told him ‘No’ fifteen years ago.”
In 2004, the couple had a contract with Rockford Homes until Pickerington issued a referendum on the building of new houses which forced Rockford to withdraw from the agreement.
Bob said that “he cannot get a farmer to come in and farm 30 acres”. In addition, the property floods and that they must rely upon a well and septic tank.
In an handwritten letter to the city, resident Trena Duchesne wrote that the Woodward’s property was once her family’s farm.
When her family first moved to the city 68 years ago, “Pickerington was a village and a great place to live. We had no traffic, no problems – just wonderful surroundings. There were only five names on Long Road.”
After losing her brother in the Vietnam War and her mother a few years later, Duchesne’s father sold all but three acres of the family’s land.
“The 21 acres includes three acres of wooded area with two-hundred-year-old trees, a pond in the back on approximately six acres and 12 acres used for farming. The last time it was farmed was in 1987. This land has been sitting empty ever since.
It has been home to many wildlife – raccoons, possums, skunks, deer, foxes, feral cats, birds, ducks and even six-foot long snakes.
It is so nice to see all form of wildlife around my property. It is like living next to a metro park. With all this building it will bring about a major loss in habitat. What a shame.”
If the council denies the rezoning, Gwin told the commission that AMH did not plan to develop the Woodward’s parcel.
If the council denies the rezoning, Peggy said the city should expect a lawsuit.
According to Mike Medvedkov, director of land acquisition for AMH, the value of the homes upon completion would be about $369,000 with leases ranging from $2,100 to $2,400 per month. These would be “high end” apartments and not government subsidized.
Several residents emailed the city to express their concerns regarding the impact that Hampton Meadows would have on local infrastructure – especially in regard to traffic and schools.
Resident Tracey Newman wrote that Long Road has already become “quite dangerous for those who live along its side streets. Speeding is the rule rather than the exception; cars frequently pass illegally; the road is narrow with no side berm; and adequate street lighting is nonexistent.
There are no sidewalks nor bike lanes, but that does not stop pedestrians or bicyclists from sharing the road. Assuming that each resident has two cars, that is a minimum of 234 new vehicles on an already insufficient road.”
City Engineer Valerie Klingman agreed that traffic would be a “major concern.” Long Road would need to be widened and have a turn lane added.
Additionally, Newman said that more houses would increase burden on the schools. Hampton Meadows would lie completely within the Pickerington Local School District (PLSD).
“The district does not have the space to house the students currently enrolled,” Newman said. “It definitely does not have the space to accommodate the projected increase in enrollment from housing developments currently under construction.
Adding yet another 117 houses to an already overcrowded school system would be the height of irresponsibility and show a complete disregard for the students of Pickerington. Should the zoning pass, the message sent to our student population is that city leaders have no interest or concern for the quality of their educational spaces, and thereby, the quality of their education.”
PLSD Treasurer Ryan Jenkins said that the district had not included Hampton Meadows in its enrollment projections, but “our data tells us that on average, each new home comes with at least one new student.”
Given current district boundaries, students from the new subdivision would progress from Pickerington Elementary to Diley Middle to Ridgeview Junior High, to Central High School.
Central already exceeds capacity by more than 200 students.
After voters rejected two identical bond issues to build more classrooms, the district must rely on alternatives to alleviate overcrowding such as hybrid learning and redrawing district boundaries. See PLSD Considers How to Alleviate Crowding
“We understand that as a district our charge is to educate all students that live in our district,” Jenkins said. “We continue to see increases in enrollment, and the subdivision at Hampton Meadows will certainly increase our enrollment even more. We still believe that the best option for our residents is to pass the anticipated bond issue in November of 2022.”
AMH Development is a national company based in Westerville.
Contact information for the city councilmembers can be found on the city of Pickerington’s website: https://www.ci.pickerington.oh.us/government/city-council/