Champion plans apartment complex on South Miller

That big empty 12.8-acre lot at the South Miller Drive and Fairland Drive intersection directly across the street from General Rosecrans Elementary School might soon get the apartment community it was originally zoned for.

When Sunbury Mills was platted the lot was zoned for multi-family. Lifestyle Communities, the builder of 152 existing apartment units built in 2000 along Ohio 3 entering Sunbury from the south, submitted a plan for a 146-unit townhouse complex for the site in 2012, but met with such stiff resistance from the community that Lifestyle pulled out of the deal.

Last Monday, during the Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, Champion Real Estate Services President and CEO Brian Yeager and Champion Chief Investment Officer Dan Hunter were in chambers to describe a 146-unit apartment complex their firm would like to build on the site.

Yeager said Champion is committed to building first-class apartments in Sunbury and wants to make something residents of the community can be proud of.

Hunter said Champion’s plan includes 96 townhouses facing South Miller Drive and Fairland Drive, two bedroom units with one car attached garages, and three bedroom units with two car attached garages. The remainder of the units would be garden style apartments.

“They’ve been built before in Pickerington and Canal Winchester; it’s a proven concept,” Hunter said. “They would be 100 percent rental in the $1,100 to $1,450 per month range.”

Hunter said the demographics would be a wide range of young professionals and empty nesters; the complex would contain a community center with pool and playground.

Sitting in for Sunbury consulting engineer Wes Hall, Gary Schmidt, CT Consultants, said the plan looks good and adheres to the original Sunbury Mills Development Plan.

“The setbacks are bigger than approved for Sunbury Mills, but I would like to see a bigger buffer between the apartments and homes on Woodchuck Drive,” Schmidt said. “My biggest problem is pedestrian connections and the buffer. I would also like to see the dumpster moved away from nearby single-family homes.”

Schmidt recommended checking with the BST&G Fire District about emergency vehicle access.

Commission member Tim Gose agreed with Schmidt.

“My main concern is a landscaped buffer to the rear,” Gose said. “A mound, trees, shrubs. Everything else seems within the requirements.”

Commission member Dave Martin asked Hunter and Yeager if they had thought out sidewalk access to nearby schools. Yeager said the plan is to make the apartment complex as walk-able and pedestrian friendly as possible.

Asked about a timeline, Hunter said Champion would like to break ground in the fall, build all the units at once, and complete the project in 18 months.

Several Woodchuck and Fox Trail residents expressed concerns about traffic, site access during construction, and buffers between the apartments and nearby single-family homes.

Yeager said he would contact nearby residents and hear their concerns.

Because it was an information only presentation, Champion Real Estate Services would have to return to the zoning commission with a final plat and plans before proceeding with the apartment complex.