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Senior plan OK’d

January 22, 2013

Walt Whitmyer, a senior housing developer from Columbus, shows Lincoln Estates Subdivision residents photographs of a similar housing project, while John Stock (not pictured) talks with Wapakoneta City Council members during their meeting Monday seeking a resolution of support to gain points in an application process with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

Residents from a Wapakoneta subdivision greeted senior housing developers from Columbus with concerns regarding water running off the property and trees being cut down.

John Stock and Walt Whitmyer, developers of the proposed senior housing project, approached Wapakoneta City Council members during their meeting Monday seeking a resolution of support to gain points in an application process with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

Councilors suspended the rules of three readings by a 6-1 vote, with Councilor-at-large Dan Graf objecting, and passed the resolution by a 7-0 vote, despite the city residents’ objections.

Stock and Whitmyer intend to build 40 senior residential housing units on 7.7 acres of land near the intersection of Redskin Trail and Lincoln Highway. The ground abuts the Lincoln Estates Subdivision and Tonya and Steve Henderson’s property.

Stock and Whitmyer presented a conceptual drawing and explained they intend to build 10 single-story, fourplex buildings, with each unit having an attached one-car garage and additional parking spaces. A one-bedroom unit would be 650-square feet and a two-bedroom unit would be 850-square feet.

The units would be leased to people only 55 years and older and nobody under the age of 40 would be permitted to live in the complex. To qualify for the OHFA tax credit program, residency would be restricted to households earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income, which would be $26,940 for a one-person household and $30,780 for a two-person household.

Stock told councilors the location is ideal because it is in close proximity to a medical facility and the local YMCA. He said the land would permit such use since it is already zoned B-2 and is owned by the Brewer family.

Residents of Lincoln Estates Subdivision voiced concerns primarily about the additional runoff from the property once it is developed since they are already having flooding problems and retention ponds in the subdivision do not function as they were promised by their developer.

Bill Jacobs, who lives on Gettysburg Drive, told councilors they have had their retention ponds flood to the point they have flooded parts of Independence Drive and caused property damage and flooding of homes in the subdivision.

He said the ponds are already handling the run-off and the silt from a farm field to the east and he voiced his and his neighbors’ concerns regarding handling more run-off from the south with the addition of roofs, driveways and streets where this development is proposed.

“We take it upon ourselves to deal with water run-off and maintain the retention ponds because we want a nice place to live,” Jacobs said, noting a neighborhood group spends between $5,000 and $7,000 each year on maintenance of the retention ponds. “Now you want 7 to 8 acres of basic run-off — a lot of concrete and a lot of roof — and to tie that in with our retention ponds would be nothing less than negligence because there would be damage.

“When we came to the city for help, what do we get — not only ‘no’ but ‘heck no,’” he said.

Lincoln Estates Subdivision resident Ned Dammeyer also objected regarding the possible flooding and has approached councilors several times about run-off from the east causing problems at the subdivision’s retention ponds. On Monday, he also objected to the cutting down of an entire woods, which was supposed to be a nature park under plans submitted by RJ Stone Development, of Lima. Those plans never came to fruition.

After the Stock presentation, Dammeyer told the Wapakoneta Daily News the residents took some solace in City Law Director Denny Faller’s interpretation of the law regarding run-off, but he would still like the senior housing development located along Ohio 198.

“The low ground must take the water, they cannot stop that because it is the natural flow of the water,” Faller said, “while they have to take the water they do not have to take it at a faster speed.They (developers) have to design detention ponds or retention ponds so the flow is no faster than what it is now.”

Whitmyer addressed their responsibility to the residents and in meeting the city’s drainage requirement.

“We have to manage our water, hold it on site so that we do not impact other people and that is what we will do,” Whitmyer said. “If we cannot meet what the city’s requirements are then we will have to walk away from the project. Our goal is not to harm other people and that is the purpose of the city ordinances.”

The two men made a similar presentation last Tuesday before the Wapakoneta City Planning Commission and faced similar objections.

During Monday’s meeting, Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. explained the city cannot stop the sale of the land nor the development if all city building and zoning codes are met.

He also agreed with Council President Steve Henderson that this project should be more desirable than a gasoline station or a grocery store, which was proposed at one time in 2003 and included a curb cut near the intersection.

“We cannot control who the Brewers sell that land to and I also am a property owner in the vicinity with a business to the southwest across the street,” Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. said. “You have to pick and choose and I would trust that these folks would try to maintain as many of the trees as possible. I think there could be a lot more onerous property uses which are also perfectly legitimate under a B-2 zoning which could be very high traffic.

“It is difficult and I understand you don’t want the trees to go because I hear the birds in the trees when I come out of my office,” he said. “Progress and development are going to occur. We can’t tell the Brewers that they can’t sell their land and if they can reach a mutually agreed upon price then we have to say that this is something that will fit in our neighborhood.”

After the meeting, Safety-Service Director Bill Rains explained the next step is for Stock and Whitmyer would have to develop a grade site plan which must show how the water will drain and they must provide a study that a certain amount of ground will retain this amount of water.

“They have to have some form of stormwater retention because they cannot impact the people downstream,” Rains said, “but they still have the right to discharge their storm water, they just have to control it.”

Mayor Rodney Metz said he would encourage the developers to retain as many trees on the property for several reasons.

“They have to remember that trees account for a given percentage, or number of gallons, in storm water retention,” Metz said. “We will stress it provides shade in the summer, helps in the winter by serving as a wind break. They provide help to homeowners year round.”

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