- Doug Smith
Update on the UMCH property
In January 2021, Lifestyle Communities (LC) helped create a separate entity – Worthington Campus. At that time, the UMCH property was transferred to this new entity from the United Methodist Children’s Home organization, the previous owner for many years.
Subsequently, the new property owner submitted an application to the city to develop a high-density market-rate apartment (1 bdrm for $1,200/month). Throughout 2021, the applicant met with the city’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) and city staff.
The MPC ultimately rejected the application to rezone, and City Council followed suit in December by unanimously rejecting the application.
The Council decision came after months of outcry from a strong portion of the community citing the plan’s devasting impact on the community and lack of vision to develop something consistent with the community vision.
One of the issues apparent in the LC plan is they essentially proposed the same project as the 2015 concept, when the community – and City Council – made it very clear LC was off the mark with their concept. But the applicant kept citing the 2014 Comprehensive Plan update as the basis for their high-density apartment proposal.
At the December meeting, the applicant’s entire presentation was shrouded in the threat of a lawsuit against the city. Since the December meeting, LC’s legal representatives have requested a comprehensive public records request for all communications relating to the UMCH property and LC from 2015.
In local governance, resident input is important and powerful. Only counting the emails sent to Council the week preceding the December meeting, we received more than 80 resident emails supporting the MPC’s decision to reject the application. In the months prior, an additional 100 residents sent an email to the city.
At the December meeting, I asked the applicant to produce any resident emails/letters supporting their application. They claimed to have several but still have not produced any to Council.