MOUNT VERNON — By a 5 to 2 vote, City Council gave its approval Monday for the rezoning of 84 acres at 17795 Coshocton Road. Known as the Beckett Annexation, the zoning will change to 59 acres of A-1, single-family residential; 13 acres of PND, planned neighborhood development; and 12 acres of general business, GB. Councilmen Mike Hillier and John Fair cast the no votes.

Councilwoman Nancy Vail asked City Engineer Cameron Keaton to respond to concerns about the increased traffic the development will generate. “Depending on what the development is and how fast it phases, what I would recommend is a traffic impact study be done by the developers so that you look at the big picture of how this will be developed out, and if there’s roadway improvements that need to be done, I would think that would be the developer’s responsibility,” he said. “Typically, if it’s something as a result of their development, if they need sanitary sewer, if they need water lines and that type of thing, usually the developer is responsible and I think our code reflects that the developer is responsible to make those improvements to serve that site. So if traffic is part of that, if they need turn lanes, traffic signals or whatever it may take, it is the developer’s responsibility to put those in.”

Map of proposed Beckett property development 

Hillier questioned when the traffic impact study will be done since only 10 houses are being built initially. “The traffic impact study would look at the entire development as it moves through the next 10 years,” responded Safety-service Director Dave Glass.

Keaton recommended the city have an advance agreement with the developer. “Maybe you are only putting in one or two buildings and it’s not that big of an impact, but what happens as things grow, and Coshocton Avenue is a good example of that…unless you’ve got something in place that makes them responsible for those improvements in the future, then you’re going to be hung out to dry,” said Keaton.

Keaton said the developer is also responsible for upgrades, turn lanes and curb cuts from U.S. 36. He said that as an engineer, he would try and minimize the number of curb cuts or entrances off of U.S. 36. “But there would at least be one and we would have to look at it and see how it would impact it,” he said.

“With the amount of traffic that you would be putting in the general business of 12 acres, in the area that it’s in, can the city ask…for those improvements to be done before it’s developed so we’re not sitting here waiting for the first [accident] to do the improvements?” asked Hillier.

“That would be the purpose of the traffic impact study,” said Keaton. “There again, I think you’re going to have to be a little flexible…one building is not going to generate much traffic at that location. But if you get five or 10 or 15 there, then that’s a different story.”

Vail told the Becketts the city is putting much trust in them and wishing them well in creating a development in which they and the city can be proud. “All of us will be watching with great expectations,” she said.

Councilwoman Janis Seavolt said the Becketts have been forthcoming with their vision and from their first meeting found out they were going to have opposition. “They could have opted not to annex and developed the property themselves and the traffic would still be an issue, yet they continued,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have the Becketts wanting to proceed with this and go through all the problems they’ve had.”

Hillier said he, too, appreciates the Becketts, and understands the city wants to grow but is concerned about what happens when the next parcel down the road is annexed. “You have to look in your mind and say, ‘okay, I’m going to be on this council for so long, where in my mind is the plan,’” he said. He pointed out that in the Municipal Planning Commission meetings one member said he would like to see growth out Harcourt Road but everyone wants on Coshocton Road so I’m voting yes. “As long as we still vote yes for Coshocton Road, we’re going to get further and further to Gambier and eat up more agricultural land and we’ll never go out Harcourt Road where we have the water and sewer waiting for development,” he said.

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