UPDATE: Kettering neighbors ‘blindsided’ by $11M apartment plans near Meijer

Change in city notification process for developments at issue.

Residents near a planned 50-unit, multimillion-dollar apartment building behind Meijer off Wilmington Pike say they “felt blindsided” about the development.

Kettering officials said after a 2015 city code change, public hearings or notices to neighbors of proposed developments are no longer required in most cases, but City Manager Mark Schwieterman said the process may be reviewed.

Spire Development intends to build Darby Run on five acres behind the Meijer store. That’s just a few hundred yards from Hempstead Landing, a 40-unit housing complex the Columbus business just completed, city records show.

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Both are classified as workforce housing developments which require income ceilings for new residents, officials said. Total project costs are listed at $11.537 million for Darby Run and $8.284 million for Hempstead Landing, state records show.

The city’s planning commission unanimously voted in April to split the five acres behind Meijer from the store’s 45-acre lot, paving the way for Darby Run at 4300 Hempstead Station Drive, according to Kettering documents.

Neighbors of the site received no official notice from the city before the April vote, resident Dave Baumann said.

Issues about the Darby Run plan were the focus of a meeting neighbors of the site had with Kettering officials Wednesday evening.

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

“Whenever there’s going to be development near a residential area, the city should sit down with that neighborhood and let them know what the planned development is, address any questions that the neighborhood may have about it, explain why the development is coming, what it’s going to be and just address any issues that the neighbors might have,” Baumann said.

“Otherwise, rumors start flying around about the development that’s not good for anybody,” added Baumann, who lives just southeast of the site in a subdivision that includes Hamlet, Jonathon, Stayman and Tangent drives.

City mailers before public meetings on developments “would be acceptable,” he said. “At least some type of notification of what’s going on other than the neighborhood finding out” after the fact.

Altering the notification process is “maybe … something we should talk about,” Schwieterman told residents Wednesday night.

He added that the change “has caused some angst.”

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There’s “quite a bit of difference between a community meeting and a public hearing,” Schwieterman said, noting that community meetings are “a little more free flowing, not as structured and not required.”

The 2015 changes allowed Kettering to “essentially be competitive, to make sure we operated at … speed of business,” a popular industry term at the time, Schwieterman said.

“In the process, it was determined one way we could do it was to raise our standards, require more and if you met those higher standards and those (new) requirements, (developers) could apply for a building permit and move forward,” he added.

While Schwieterman said the city held “multiple meetings” prior to the 2015 change, one resident said the fact that the move eliminated public hearings in most cases was not common knowledge.

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“I don’t think that 98% of Kettering understands that,” the resident said.

Both Spire housing projects — being co-developed by County Corp. — are general occupancy workforce housing communities receiving 9% Ohio housing tax credits, according to state records.

Both Hempstead Landing, which will open this year, and the yet-to-be-built Darby Run “are not project-based Section 8 housing,” Kettering Planning and Development Director Tom Robillard said.

But qualified applicants must have household earnings between 60% and 80% of the average median income, he said.

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That would include single people making up to $35,000, or $58,000 a year for a family of four, Robillard added.

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