Green light given for Plum Creek Apartments

Theresa Montgomery

The devil is in the details, but plans to build a 288-unit apartment complex across the street from the Tom S. Cooperrider-Kent Bog State Nature Preserve are moving on to the next phase.

After approval last week from the City of Kent’s planning commission, the Plum Creek Apartments development proposed by EQK, LLC, Inc., is now under technical review by the city.

“That’s an internal process when we review all the drawings,” said Gary Locke, plans administrator for the City of Kent.

The complex will be located off Meloy Road, near the intersection of state Routes 261 and 43.

Environmental concerns arising from the closeness of the multi-family complex to the Kent Bog on the other side of Meloy Road have dogged the project. Run-off from the development’s water retention pond would endanger the bog’s fragile ecosystem. The exact area of the natural buffer zone protecting the bog from such a threat was not clearly delineated in the previous proposal.

“That’s been a concern from the beginning,” Locke said. “Some of the drainage will percolate into the ground, but most of the water will be drained off into the water retention near Route 43, and should not run off into the bog.”

Environmental issues have largely been addressed by the developers, said Gordon Vars, facilitator of Friends of the Kent Bog.

“Any undisturbed vegetation left for the bog needed to be spelled out,” Vars said. “Now there is a definite boundary with construction markings and a ‘do not disturb’ shaded area.”

EQK has said it will relocate the smaller trees from areas that are dug up and replant them elsewhere on the property, Vars said.

Dave Williams, the attorney for EQK, could not be reached for comment.

“That indicates they’re taking the preservation of undisturbed land seriously,” Vars said. “The buffer they have proposed is really about the best they could do on this site.”

Ensuring a permanent conservation easement, possibly monitored by a governing authority or organization, that will protect the natural buffer zone even if the property is sold is still being worked out, Vars said.

Charlotte McCurdy, district preserve manager of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, said ODNR will be part of determining the type of native vegetation that will be planted.

“We will lend our assistance in the replanting of the disturbed areas,” McCurdy said. “We are still involved and will be helping with suggestions as to what to plant and when.”

Locke said there may be outstanding issues related to Park and Recreation Department fees. Although the developers completed a traffic study for the project, the city plans to hire another consultant who may have further recommendations regarding traffic.

“Then it would go before the planning commission,” Lock said. “It’s possible, but may not be necessary. What you do is try to find solutions, and I think that’s what happened here.”

While Vars credits EQK with addressing environmental concerns, the ecosystem of the bog is still endangered by inherent issues raised by its location across the street from a multi-family apartment complex, such as population density and traffic, Vars said.

“I think they have done the best they can,” he said, “but the project itself is a threat.”

Contact public affairs reporter Theresa Montgomery at [email protected].