Kent approves South Lincoln housing development

Simon Husted

After two hours of discussion, the city planning commission approved the previously proposed housing complex on South Lincoln Street on Tuesday night —but with an important condition.

Edwards Communities, the Columbus based firm developing the project, must build a 50-foot wide landscape buffer composed of trees between the seven student cottages and the single-family homes located to the west.

“We’ve had some discussions with Walt Adams, some with the city, some with several council members,” said Ryan Szymanski, vice president of development at Edwards Communities. “I’ve seen some of the petitions that have gone of what people would like to be done there.”

Before the meeting, there were no plans for the four-acre space of land. Syzmanski said the company wanted to keep options open for a neighborhood consensus on what will be established in the open space.

Adams, of High Street, handed each commissioner a petition with 29 signatures in support of the green space buffer.

Because the complex will be located south of Summit Street and east of Vine Street, Adams said the proposed project increases the risk of students crossing through private property on High Street as a short cut to reach downtown bars and clubs; a concern many residents have shared since an overlay district was first proposed.

“’No Trespassing’ signs have no impact, as other people would likely tell you, and in fact there really is no enforcement against the intrusion of these two o’clock drunks on our properties,” Adams told the planning commissioners.

Adams said one of the residents who signed the petition requested that a piece of the open space be dedicated to a community garden.

Planning Commissioner Anthony Catalino said the community garden option might not be wise because its proximity to student housing runs the risk of vandalism.

“This is an idea that we thought could be laid on the table for consideration,” Adams said. “There’s obviously other considerations whether the owners of the property are willing to do this, whether they are willing to assume liability and allow this to take place.”

Planning Commissioner Peter Paino said he’s received two or three similar requests through e-mails.

Ultimately, all five commissioners agreed on the need for a green space buffer of trees to the west.

Whether the space to the south of the housing complex will utilize a fence or trees as a buffer is still up to Edwards Communities, the residents of Marigold Lane and the city’s Community Development Department.

“I would like the other residents in the area to give as much input to Edwards (Communities) because it seems like this doesn’t always happens with a development company—they’re so open to suggestions,” Catalino said.

In addition to the buffers, the planning commission recommended that Edwards Communities provide either a site manager or a patrol officer on call at all times during the day for security.

Contact Simon Husted at [email protected].