Greg Chillog and Richard McBride of the planning, development and landscape architecture firm EDGE, joined developer Pat Shivley of NorthGate Center Development at last Wednesday’s (July 15) Sunbury Village Council meeting for an informal presentation of a NorthGate Center concept plan.
Shivley and his NorthGate Center partners will soon ask members of the Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission to approve a zoning change of 628 acres recently annexed into the village extending as far west as 3 B’s and K Road from agricultural to Planned Commercial District.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has determined that I-71 Interchange improvements west of Sunbury would be south of the existing US36/Ohio 37 interchange. An Intersection Modification Feasibility Study is underway; a southern I-71 Interchange would be in the vicinity of the abandoned ODOT weigh station south of the existing interchange.
The concept plan presented to Sunbury Council shows a new four-lane roadway within recently annexed properties, Sunbury Parkway, with big box retail around the I-71 Interchange. The roadway in the concept plan intersects with US 36/Ohio 37 between Cheshire Road and the village limits.
“NorthGate has a lot of potential, there’s a lot of opportunities for the village,” Chellog said as he presented site plans, roadway sections, and conceptual renderings. “The area at I-71 would be a highway-oriented commercial district; the area from South Galena Road to the village is a transition zone. The key to the plan is the southern interchange and the routing of Sunbury Parkway. The potential for Sunbury to have a front door at Interstate 71 is very significant.”
The concept plan shows green space between retail buildings and pedestrian walkways, with walkways separated 12 feet to 15 feet from vehicular traffic by tree lawns. Medians between east and west lanes would also be generous and treed, wide enough that future roadway expansions would come out of the medians, not encroach on sidewalks.
The plans showed black crossbar horse fence and periodic white brick pillars lining Sunbury Parkway at a visually appropriate distance from the roadway; consistent signage would be at the pillars, and light poles would blend into the surrounding landscape.
McBride said there would be aesthetically pleasing branding at the I-71 Interchange, complete with landscaping that would serve as Sunbury’s front door.
“We think it’s important to establish the character of Sunbury Parkway at the I-71 Interchange, and then carry that character as we transition into the village,” McBride said. “A four-lane, 45 miles per hour roadway plus a pleasing pedestrian experience with leisure paths. We believe the sidewalks are the most important element so pedestrians feel comfortable and safe. To make a successful road like this is the goal of these elements and how they function on the site.”
Chellog added that over the next several months Edge would be creating development standards to bring to the zoning commission.
“Our development standards are going to require high-quality materials,” Chellog said. “We are not going to build a strip mall.”
While Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said he liked the consistency throughout the concept plan, Council member Jennifer Ward said she thought the Village would end up looking like New Albany.
“The design is beautiful, but it’s cookie-cutter,” Ward said. “It takes away from our unique individualism. It’s very upscale.”
Shivley told Ward that the intention was not to change Sunbury’s character.
“This will be a great development, and there will be a transition phase,” Shivley said. “People will be able to take bike paths from NorthGate all the way to Village Square. What’s going to be the distinguishing thing is that it says Welcome to Sunbury. We have to ask ourselves: What’s going to invite them to come down that road into the Village?”
Council member Joe Gochenour questioned a four-lane Sunbury Parkway coming down to a two-lane roadway in old Sunbury that barely functions now.
Sunbury Consulting Engineer Wes Hall, CT Consultants, said the four-lane to two-lane transition has been identified and is part of the development’s traffic impact study.
“A lot of additional information is going to be coming in,” Hall said. “That roadway transition is a key issue of the traffic impact study.”
Hatfield cautioned against discussing the details of what was an informal concept plan.
“I know this is very important development for our community, it’s crucial to get this right,” Hatfield said. “But tonight was just a preview. They’ll be back in a month or so in zoning for a Plan Commercial Development rezoning.”
Council member Scott Weatherby added that the concept plan shown during the meeting represented a new Sunbury.
“There will be a transition to the old Sunbury,” Weatherby said. “This is what we’re going
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola may be reached at 614-266-6093.