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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Wilder Approves Zone Change Clearing the Way for Condo Project

Wilder City Administrator Terry Vance discusses a zoning map change, passed by council, that will clear the way for a new condo development.

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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor

Wilder city council voted last month to approve a zone map amendment that would clear the way for a proposed condo development on the southwest corner of Bentwood Hills Drive and Three Mile Road. The 58-acre development would include 17 buildings, each with 14 one- and two-bedroom units, for a total of 238 condominiums.

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The request by the developer, Grand Communities LLC, an affiliate of Fischer Homes, was to change zoning in the area from a combination of residential zones (R3, R2, R1A and RRE) to Residential 1B (R1B) with a Residential Cluster Development (RCD) overlay. After a public hearing, Wilder Planning and Zoning approved and recommended the city adopt the zoning change.

With major improvements underway by Sanitation District 1 (SD1) that would alleviate some of the chronic flooding and storm water issues in the area, the developer said the property could now support a higher density. The original zones allowed two units per acre and the new zoning would allow for six units per acre.

At the public hearing, several residents expressed concern over drainage and storm water runoff, an issue many have been dealing with in that area. Concerns over completion of the SD1 project prompted zoning officials to add a condition to their recommendation that the SD1 work be completed before the condos are built. The developer also said a retention basin is included in their plans.

RELATED: Wilder Planning Recommends Map Amendment for Condo Project—With a Condition

What is SD1 doing?

SD1 is beginning the first phase of a project to tackle the issue of sanitary sewer overflows (SSO). Once the entire project is complete, more than 47 million gallons of overflow will be eliminated, according to SD1 engineers.

In the first phase, estimated to cost around $13 million, SD1 is building an equalization (EQ) tank and wet weather pump station along the Licking River in Wilder eliminating 5 million gallons of SSO. In addition, the agency will increase the size of approximately 1,800 feet of sanitary sewer lines running from Route 9 to the tank.

In the future phase of the project, the plan is to install a second siphon underneath the river and to upsize sewer lines downstream. The second phase could cost another $14 million and is subject to the need for some easements in areas along the way when private property could be involved.

RELATED: SD1 Begins Multi-Phase Project in Wilder to Eliminate 47 Million Gallons of Sanitary Sewer Overflows

Concerns over timing

Timing of when SD1’s work would be complete was an issue both at the public hearing and at the council meeting where it was discussed again.

Wilder City Administrator Terry Vance noted that the developer had expressed concerns about the condition placed on the zoning recommendation because they have no control over SD1 planning or projects.

There had been discussion on council about requiring additional conditions centering around the SD1 project, but it was decided not to add any new conditions on the developer as that work is under the purview of SD1.

Vance said he felt SD1 was taking an aggressive approach to tackling the storm water issue, and he expected the first phase to move ahead as planned. Yet, he said SD1 has not yet provided a timeline for the project.

"I think when we have the site plan, we’ll be able to get more information from SD1...I don’t think they are going to be off on having the tank and the line to Licking Pike operational by December. And, they won’t have anyone ready to live there by December."

He noted the developer may want to request a timeline from SD1 and provide information to the city about their construction timing once the SD1 work is complete.

Council voted four to one to accept the zoning change. Council member Kelly Meiser voted against. Now that the motion has passed, a site plan and more information will make its way to council in the months ahead.

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