PLAIN CITY -- A high-density housing zone for seniors was discussed during a recent public hearing, with the possibility of 15 or more patio homes situated in one city block where the old Plain City Elementary School now stands.
The developers of the project are Jeff Hales and Randy Marriott, said Mayor Jay Jenkins. If the zone and development are approved, it will be just across from the historic town square.
"We've been working for several months on a senior housing overlay zone," Planning Commissioner Jared Maw said.
He said the city is working to accommodate a developer who has plans to demolish the old elementary school and bring in the small patio homes.
"We worked with 15 units as the amount of housing and tailored the ordinance around that," Maw said.
He said the small patio homes would be less than 2,000 square feet per dwelling, with no front entrance, but with a driveway leading into a garage from the rear.
He also said no two homes next to each other would look the same.
Councilwoman LaFray Kelley said she heard there were plans for 18 to 19 homes on the approximately 3 acres of property.
"We tailored the ordinance so there would be a certain amount of dwellings per acre," Maw said.
The ordinance would allow 6 units per acre, he said, so there is a possibility, if the development is approved with a senior housing zone, 18 homes could go on the property.
"This is what we've worked out," Jenkins said. "The senior housing overlay zone would be senior housing for a residential development just in that area of the city. The senior housing zone is only for seniors with adequate affordable housing provided for low- to moderate-income seniors."
Maw said if the development is eventually approved, the homes will be superior in functional design, appearance and operational standards, and would be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The houses would be up close to the sidewalk," Jenkins said.
Maw said it would be up to the developer whether to have the road behind the homes be a standard road or private driveway leading to all the homes.
He said the ordinance also would allow the developer freedom in how to set the homes within the development. A private road would discourage through traffic.
A home owners association would likely be set up to maintain the road and property, he said.
Resident Susanne Palmer, who lives near the proposed development, asked if there would be a limit to the number of people allowed to live in each home.
Maw said at this point the ordinance specifies one resident must be at least 50 or older, but as the ordinance is written, it does not specify the number of people allowed to reside in each home.
Attorney Craig Call said limiting the number of residents is rarely used in city ordinances and could be very problematic in large areas. It could be appropriate, however, in small areas such as in a senior housing overlay zone.
"How many can live there, I don't know. I know that strikes a nerve. That's an issue that can be a problem," said Call.
Jenkins reminded those in the council meeting that the development is not being approved at this point and the public hearing concerned only the senior housing overlay zone.
"Our intention is that we wanted to get senior housing out here," said Councilman Bruce Higley. "There are a lot of seniors moving out of Plain City and into other developments."
Jenkins said public hearings are very beneficial in the development of an ordinance and asked the planning commission to continue to work on the senior housing zone ordinance and bring it back in the near future. He also said he appreciated the input from Call, who Jenkins said is a state and regional authority on the subject and has written a book on land use.