A proposed 75-unit housing development for Denison University faculty members took a step forward in a long bureaucratic process when Granville Village Council recently gave an initial blessing to annexing 31 acres of college property along New Burg Street into the village.

At the same time, Denison provided the village with the results of a traffic study it commissioned to address concerns raised by some residents.  

The study was conducted by The Kleingers Group of Westerville. The consultants analyzed three intersections on New Burg Street, including the intersection with North Pearl Street, where a roundabout is scheduled to be built in 2024 to address current traffic congestion. The Kleingers Group found there is significant traffic congestion on New Burg Street during the morning and afternoon hours when school and commuter traffic peaks. The proposed Denison development would not have a significant impact upon the existing traffic, Village Manager Herb Koehler said about the study findings.

This is an artist’s rendering of faculty housing proposed for land on New Burg Street owned by Denison University. Credit: Denison University

The unanimous council vote on Sept. 6 moved the annexation request a step forward, Koehler said. He expects the process to take at least another three or four months. The Licking County Commissioners must review the project next, and after that, the Village Council is expected to take a final vote on the annexation request.

“Looking at the schedule of meetings for both bodies, the earliest we could get final approval is in January 2025,” said David English, Denison University’s Chief Financial Officer.

Annexation will allow Denison to receive village services, including connecting to water and sewer lines, for the project that would bring up to 75 housing units to the village for new faculty members who otherwise would have difficulty finding affordable housing in the Granville area. 

English said Denison is working to obtain contractor cost estimates for the development, which will be built in two phases. About half of the units would be built in the first phase and the second half later, considering that it will take time to reach full occupancy for each phase. 

Even assuming final approval in January of 2025, “We tentatively forecast that the first phase of the project … will take 14 months,” English said. That means the first units could be ready for residents in March of 2026.

In the meantime, village, township and schools officials are working on the traffic issue. The consultant’s report said that the schools have already made some changes in the parking lots to improve traffic flow at the middle and high schools.

“We’re still going to work with Denison, the school district, and the township on ways to improve or alleviate congestion on New Burg Street,” Koehler said. “One thing that is going to happen next year is there will be a roundabout installed at New Burg and North Pearl Street. We believe that will certainly help traffic and alleviate some of the congestion.” 

If congestion remains, he said there will be additional fine-tuning to help alleviate traffic on New Burg Street.

The area outlined in yellow is the land across from Granville High School where Denison plans to build faculty housing. Credit: Licking County Auditor's website.

“We do know that there are traffic issues out there,” said Bryn Bird, a Granville Township Trustee. “The village, the township, the school district, and Denison have gotten together two times and will continue to meet as we each look at different ways we can tweak and manage traffic in our long term planning around that intersection” on New Burg Street and North Pearl Street, Bird said. While there is a possibility of additional traffic congestion on New Burg Street, Bird and others involved plan to watch closely as the street develops, keeping a close eye on how the roundabout affects congestion.

The Kleingers Group said the Denison development will have one access driveway onto New Burg Street that will align with the western-most Granville High School driveway.

The study analyzed three intersections on New Burg Street: the one at Burg Street near the Intermediate School, the high-school driveway across from the proposed development site, and at North Pearl Street. Traffic was analyzed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the three sites on Wednesday, April 12, and Thursday, April 13.

“The peak hours of traffic for the study area intersections were determined to be 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. and 2:45 to 3:45 and 4 to 5 p.m. … with the 2:45 to 3:45 peak being related to the school dismissal,” the study said.

The university’s development plans call for pedestrian pathways between the proposed development and Denison’s campus to encourage residents to walk or bicycle to and from work rather than  driving to campus. According to Denison’s plans, two pathways will be installed: One would lead to Tower Field, and the other would connect to Chapin Place.

Andrew Theophilus writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism Program, which is funded in part by the Mellon Foundation. thereportingproject@denison.edu