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City Council to vote on student housing Tuesday

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Plans for student housing at the Columbus Municipal Airport continue to move forward, with a vote scheduled tonight before the City Council.

Columbus Plan Commission voted two weeks ago to recommend a change to the planned unit development zoning at the airport, allowing the possibility of student housing near the campuses of IUPUC, Purdue College of Technology and Ivy Tech State College.

The City Council is scheduled to take up consideration of that recommendation at its meeting tonight.

The student housing would be owned by a third-party developer separate from the colleges and the airport, built on land owned by the airport at the corner of Poshard Drive and Ray Boll Boulevard, about a block east of the educational campus. The development would consist of central living spaces with surrounding multi-student bedrooms.

Because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, permanent housing is not allowed on airport property, but transient housing — such as that for students — would be permissible, airport officials have said.

Caleb Tennis, president of the local Board of Aviation Commissioners, said the board was seeking the smallest possible change to the land-use plan originally approved in 2008. The city-owned airport has 473 acres that are not being used for aviation purposes. The proposed change would add transient student housing as one of the allowed uses in the airport’s education-designated area.

The change in the development plan is being requested by the airport, as the property owner, but at the request of the colleges. School officials have said that in order to expand and to meet the growing local demand for graduates that they would need student housing near the campuses. The airport expects to charge $12,000 to $20,000 annually for rent on the four acres of land, said Brian Payne, the airport manager.

The airport board recently sent out requests for proposals and qualifications to six potential developers, and had a pre-proposal meeting with the colleges and developers. Payne said two of the developers met with airport officials Friday meeting.

The proposal request outlines plans for the communal living and dining spaces, with four bedrooms and baths off of each living area, Payne said. The initial development is envisioned for 100 to 125 students but could expand in the future based on demand, he said.

The request also encouraged developers to submit plans for any amenities such as laundry facilities or exercise equipment, Payne said.

The deadline for submission of proposals is May 31, Payne said.

“I don’t anticipate getting any back until the last second. That is normally the way those things come in,” Payne said.

Should the City Council approve the land-use change, the proposals will be reviewed by a panel made up of two airport board members, Payne, a representative from the Community Education Coalition and Carl Malysz, the city’s community development director, Payne said.

The student-housing proposal has been protested by residents of the Breakaway Trails subdivision, just south of the airport property off of Central Avenue. The student housing was originally proposed by the airport board in an area just north of the subdivison but was moved farther north because of residents’ concerns. Robert Thompson, the developer of the subdivision and a homeowner, told the Plan Commission at its May 8 meeting that residents were still opposed.

Thompson said he believes the student housing will be a nuisance to neighbors and police. He said any income generated for the city will be offset by a drop in property values at Breakaway Trails and taxes paid by its homeowners. Thompson said he expects drinking, drug use and police sirens night after night if the student housing is built.

“A lot of that goes along with young students,” Thompson told the Plan Commission.

The City Council must vote twice to approve the change to the land use plan at the airport.

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