Champion Real Estate Services received a preliminary plan approval for Sunbury Pointe Apartmentsduring last week’s Sunbury Village Council meeting.
Champion plans to build the 146-unit complex at the intersection of South Miller Drive and Fairland Avenue, across the street from General Rosecrans Elementary School in Sunbury.
Folks who have been following the Champion process through zoning and council would tell you, however, that the approval was not a slam-dunk.
Champion first received approval from members of Sunbury’s Planning & Zoning Commission in August of 2015 to build 98 town homes, 30 of them three-bedroom, 48 two-bedroom garden apartments with target rents from $1,200 a month to $1,450 a month on the 12.5-acre site.
Then the developer did the math and determined that water and sewer tap fees, combined with escalating building materials costs, would put the project over budget.
After almost a year in limbo, Champion returned to Sunbury with a modified plan that had enough significant changes that it was remanded back to the zoning commission.
The reconfigured plan showed that Sunbury Pointe’s town homes would be reduced by 50 percent, and garden units increased 50 percent – there would 34 two-bedroom town homes, 16 three-bedroom town homes, and 96 apartment units for a gross density of 11.77 units per acre.
On August 22, members of the zoning commission approved the revised plan.
Because of the significant changes to the older approved plan, the new plan should have had a public hearing and three readings at Sunbury Village Council before an up or down vote.
David Hodge, of the New Albany law firm of Underhill and Hodge, was in chambers during the Sept. 7 council meeting for the Sunbury Pointe public hearing and first reading of an ordinance that would approve the project’s preliminary plan.
Hodge said the developer was requesting a suspension of the rules of council, emergency language added to the ordinance, and a vote to approve the ordinance on the first reading.
“They plan to close on the construction loan in November, start construction by the end of the year,” Hodge said, “with first unit occupancy in May or June of next year.”
Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said he recommend approved of the reconfigured Sunbury Pointe preliminary plan contingent on final legal and engineering approval.
Council members suspended the rules, added emergency language, approved the emergency language, and approved the ordinance, with council member Joe Gochenour dissenting on each vote.