A Kansas City development company wants to expand its footprint in Canal Winchester with proposals for two new warehouses.
However, a group of residents told City Council last week it’s time to slow industrial growth.
Representatives from NorthPoint Development Inc. presented a $76 million plan, including pre-annexation and economic development agreements and a rezoning request, during council’s Aug. 2 work session.
The company wants to build two structures, each more than 550,000 square feet, on 70 acres at the intersection of Bixby and Rager roads and Route 33.
“With the activity we saw in the first phase, we feel like this is a product that will be welcome to the industrial market,” NorthPoint Development Manager Marc Gloyeske told council members. “The industrial market in Columbus continues to grow.”
NorthPoint has been behind a series of warehouse and industrial projects in the Rickenbacker International Airport area in recent years, including two 430,000-square-foot warehouses recently constructed on 110 acres along Bixby Road known as Canal Crossing.
Canal Winchester sold $950,000 in bonds to purchase the property and then sold it to Northpoint for $15,000 per acre.
Gloyeske said the first-phase buildings at Canal Crossing are “100% leased,” with tenants expected to generate approximately 225 jobs. He anticipates the new NorthPoint project will bring just as many jobs or more.
The owners of the land to be annexed from Madison Township, Dale and Teresa Schacht and Schacht trustee James Maston, intend to sell the property to NorthPoint.
However, the Type II annexation, under Ohio law, would keep the property in Madison Township for property-tax purposes.
If City Council were to deny the request, the property could be annexed into the city of Columbus, which also is adjacent to the Bixby Road development, said Nate Green, director of economic development for The Montrose Group LLC, which is consulting on the project.
“If Canal Winchester wants to control its destiny for this area and not allow Columbus to encroach on that area, it’s important that we do this annexation,” Green said.
He said a Columbus annexation is “a definite possibility because they could provide sewer and water services.”
Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire described the pre-annexation agreement as “typical.”
“If there were moratoriums on development or any referendums filed against potential zoning that would take place on this parcel, then the property owner could detach from the city at that time, if it were to delay the potential development,” Haire said.
NorthPoint intends to submit an annexation petition to Franklin County commissioners this month, Haire said.
As part of the economic development agreement, Canal Winchester and Groveport-Madison schools would need to OK any tax abatements.
Several residents appeared at City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting that followed the work session to express concerns about more warehouses in the city.
Michael Barr, a cousin of the Schacht family, lives in a renovated farmhouse near the proposed development.
“It’s not a good plan, and the threat of going to Columbus is just a threat,” Barr said. “I don’t believe my cousin would do that.”
While Diane Gross admitted development is necessary, she called the idea of adding more warehouses to the city “insanity.” Gross called on city leaders to place a moratorium on industrial development and “listen to the people.”
“My three kids won’t live here,” Gross said. “They moved to Blacklick, Gahanna and Delaware because of (U.S. Route) 33, and the traffic with trucks is only going to get worse,” she said. “They call Canal Winchester, Obetz and Groveport ‘Warehouse City.’ They want us to move.”
Haire said such a moratorium could cause reputational harm to the city that could last for generations.
“It doesn’t just end when the moratorium ends,” he said. “You’ve seen that in other communities in central Ohio that have enacted moratoriums. It’s very difficult to recover from that.”
Originally Appeared Here