City approves multi-family residential project

The city has approved a zoning request near downtown Columbus to allow for three new apartment buildings — three stories each with a combined 60 new units — as part of an existing apartment complex.

Equity Property Management brought its final request to the city council last week to rezone land adjoining its Columbus Crossing complex. The rezoning would change the northern part of the parcel, which is zoned for single-family residential development, and the southern part, which is zoned for general industrial use, to multi-family residential use.

The city’s comprehensive plan blankets the entire area for future residential use, said Jeff Bergman, Columbus-Bartholomew County planning department director.

Equity plans to add two of the buildings on a parcel of land already zoned for apartments, and the third on a half-acre of land that will be rezoned.

During discussion, the council focused its attention on the third new building, which would sit on Michigan Avenue just north of 14th Street and would face the Michigan Avenue frontage.

Before the rezoning request came to the council, it won unanimous support from the city planning commission, but with three requirements put forth by Bergman and his staff.

First, the design of the building facing Michigan Avenue should adhere to a traditional neighborhood design, with no parking allowed between the front of the building and the Michigan roadway.

There also would not be any on-street parking available along Michigan, Bergman said. All drivers would be required to park in the back of the building.

Second, the planning department called for the Michigan Avenue frontage to be updated with a tree lawn, street trees and a sidewalk. However, the department did not recommend installing curb and gutter improvements along the Michigan frontage, an exclusion the city engineer’s office agreed with.

Both Bergman and Dave Hayward, executive director of public works/city engineer, told council members that the frontage along Michigan Avenue would be too short to install a properly functioning curb and gutter system. If one were to be installed, it would only be on a temporary basis, Hayward said.

However, council president Frank Jerome took issue with the lack of a curb along Michigan, saying drivers might be tempted to pull in and park along the grass without a buffer to stop them.

Councilman Tom Dell asked whether “no parking” signs could be installed along the front of the building to deter drivers from trying to park in the grass, an option that Bergman said was feasible.

Councilman Frank Miller said he believed the presence of street trees and a sidewalk would be enough to inform drivers that parking along the street is prohibited, a sentiment that Hayward echoed.

Councilman Tim Shuffett also agreed and added that the council could revisit the parking issue in the future if it became a problem.

Finally, the planning department required that a sidewalk connection be installed to link the Michigan Avenue sidewalk to the building’s primary entrance.

Council members unanimously approved the rezoning request and the planning department’s three requirements.

About the project

Equity Property Management plans to add three new apartment buildings to its existing Columbus Crossings apartment complex. The current two-story apartment complex offers 42 units.

The three new buildings would each be three stories and would make a combined total of 60 new units available to local residents. The three new buildings would be constructed on land adjoining the current location of Columbus Crossing apartments, which sits near 14th Street and Grand Avenue.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.