Sunbury Village Council didn’t have enough votes last week to approve a preliminary plan for Champion Real Estate Services’ Sunbury Pointe Apartment complex.
On Aug. 24, Sunbury’s planning and zoning commission meeting approved the preliminary plan for the 146-unit Sunbury Pointe Apartment complex Champion plans to build at the intersection of South Miller Drive and Fairland Avenue, across the street from General Rosecrans Elementary School. Council’s approval is still needed.
Champion CEO Brian Yeager and chief investment officer Dan Hunter were at the Sept. 2 council meeting for the first reading of an ordinance that would ratify the zoning commission’s approval. Yeager asked council members to suspend its rules, declare an emergency and approve the ordinance, making it immediately effective.
Village Solicitor David Brehm said there had been a discussion about trying to expedite the approval process because of an earlier delay, but he cautioned against approving an emergency and eliminating the ordinance’s 30-day statutory waiting period.
Brehm said a suspension of the rules without emergency language would eliminate the second and third readings, but retain the 30-day waiting period. He said an emergency is something needed to preserve the public peace, health or safety of the municipality. An ordinance declaring an emergency must state the reason for the urgency; merely reciting it is necessary to protect the peace, health or safety is not sufficient.
“To the extent you want to declare an emergency, you own that,” Brehm said. “To the extent you shave readings without an emergency you’ve given them something they want without taking your citizens’ right to referendum away.”
Following a motion to suspend the rules, council members voted 4-1 to approve the Sunbury Pointe preliminary plan, with council member Scott Weatherby dissenting. However, the measure did not pass.
Brehm explained that a suspension of the rules requires the approval of 75 percent of the entire council. With Len Weatherby absent and Scott Weatherby’s “no” vote, only 66 percent of the full council voted “yes.” Thus, the motion failed and the ordinance will be read a second time during the Sept. 16 council meeting.
“We’ve loved this project since we bought the land,” Yeager said. “We hosted a dinner at the Big Walnut Grill for nearby residents and addressed a super majority of their concerns. We’re a local company, and we’re dedicated to building a first-class, multi-family project the Sunbury community can be proud of.”
Hunter described the apartment complex layout on the 12.5-acre site: 98 town homes, 30 of them three-bedroom; 48 two-bedroom garden apartments; target rents from $1,200 a month to $1,450 a month.
“We’ve worked hard with (Sunbury consulting engineer) Wes (Hall) and area residents,” Hunter said. “We have high-end finishes; this will be more like a condominium complex than an apartment project.”
Mayor Tommy Hatfield said Champion Real Estate Services has been “wonderful” in developing the Sunbury Pointe project.
“Obviously they want to start sooner rather than later,” Hatfield said before council’s vote. “This is a well-thought-out plan; this is a big deal for our community. We have the ability to help expedite this process. I feel comfortable with what’s been brought to us.”
Hall noted that Champion would have to return to zoning with construction drawings that require final engineering and legal approval.
“This is just a conceptual layout,” Hall said.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093