Council approves rezoning and annexation for housing development

The Columbus City Council has voted to unanimously pass the second reading of an ordinance that annexed and rezoned property where a developer is planning to build a single-family residential subdivision on the eastern edge of the city.

Ordinances must be passed on two readings, meaning the ordinance is now fully approved.

Snitko Holdings LLC asked to annex and rezone 15 acres of property at 3361 N. Talley Road where the applicant, David Smith, told the council his plan would be for there to be 12 homes on lots about 1 acre each, joining one home already in the area.

The council also unanimously approved the accompanying fiscal plan for the property, required by state law, which indicated that there will be little or no additional cost as a result of the annexation. The area was rezoned from AP (Agricultural: Preferred) to RS1 (Residential: Single Family 1).

The RS1 designation is the city’s lowest density residential zoning district, according to city/county planning director Jeff Bergman. The city’s comprehensive plan identified the future land use for the area as residential.

Councilwoman Elaine Hilber asked Smith whether he had considered a more high-density project, given the proposed development is contiguous to Prairie Streams subdivision, which is zoned RS3.

“We have looked into it initially and it doesn’t seem feasible, given a lot of other factors between the water mitigation and public utilities, kind of the way the layout is— we’re trying to target RS1,” Smith responded.

Some of the lots, Smith said, will be sold to those who have already expressed interest, some will be publicly listed and others will be “spec” homes.

One point of discussion that was a focus in the plan commission meeting on April 10 and both readings of the ordinance before city council in May is that a significant part of the site is located in a floodplain.

However, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) “determined that no floodway is present and has provided a base flood elevation as a basis for the flood protection of any structures,” according to a planning department staff report.

“You can see the presence of floodplain on site occupies a considerable amount of property,” Bergman said. “That particular mapped floodplain is an area that FEMA, DNR, and the city’s regulations say does have development potential, but there will be a focus in protecting homes or buildings from flooding in that area.”

The structures would have to be 2 feet above the base flood elevation at a minimum, Bergman said, noting there’s an amount of upstream drainage that comes across the property.

Because the property is in the floodplain, the vast majority of the homes will be precluded from having basements, Bergman said, with the exception of the south-east corner of the area.

The property is near an unnamed tributary connected to the Sloan Branch of Clifty Creek. Standing water sometimes found on the property comes from Sloan Branch.

During public comment over the last two months, community members expressed concern primarily about drainage and flooding.

Next, Snitko will submit preliminary plat that will illustrate how the property would be divided, where public streets would be and how they would address stormwater and other public improvements. That would then be reviewed by the plan commission and if approved, Snitko would submit construction plans and a final plat that would go into further detail.

Those construction plans at that point would be reviewed by several groups including the planning department, city engineer’s office, city utilities, and the fire department. Bergman said the city’s stormwater ordinance governs stormwater concerns, which are ultimately reviewed by the city engineer’s office.

According to Smith, the development of the new addition could begin at the end of the year, but more likely will happen next year. It partly coincides with improvements to Talley Road the city is undertaking that are expected to begin in 2026.