Whittier Peninsula apartments are accepted amid land dispute with MetroParks

The city has granted zoning permits for a new apartment complex on the Whittier Peninsula despite serious concerns about traffic congestion affecting the Scioto Audubon MetroPark next door.

why is it important: The project pits Columbus and Franklin County MetroParks against the city and developers on coveted land near the Scioto River.

What is happening: Zimmer Development Co. plans to transform a 17-acre former industrial site into 780 units spread over three seven-story buildings.

  • Zimmer, which does not benefit from tax advantages for the project, reserves 10% of the apartments for affordable housing.

State of play: The question is how to handle the influx of traffic. MetroParks wants to keep an estimated 1.5 million additional annual car trips off of Maier Place, the public road that runs through the park.

  • After MetroParks rejected Zimmer’s proposal to build a separate access road on park land, the developer now plans to build a one-lane road through the complex with outgoing traffic flowing into Maier Place.

What they say: Managing Partner Landon Zimmer tells Axios that the company negotiated with MetroParks for months to find an equitable solution.

  • “We want to be good neighbours,” he says.
  • “It’s not the best solution, but it’s the one we have when we have to go it alone,” Jeffrey Brown, an attorney representing Zimmer, told the Columbus City Council on Monday.

The other side: Tim Moloney, executive director of MetroParks, told the Council he was concerned that increased traffic could be dangerous for park visitors and wildlife.

  • He described being ready to be developed on other properties in the park in case of “public good”, but not for private use.
  • “I don’t want to paint the picture that we are anti-development. In fact, we are not.”

The big picture: Council members sided with Zimmer, saying the project will help alleviate the local housing shortage without using tax incentives.

And after: Zimmer will first clean up the contaminated site before construction can begin.

About Jermaine Chase

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