COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Council is working to increase access to housing in the city on the first day back from August recess.

The zoning committee heard 17 pieces of legislation related to housing projects throughout the city totaling nearly 900 housing units, with 400 of those reserved as affordable housing.

A project that would be located on the 2600 block of Bethesda Avenue in the North Central section of the city brought out a part of the neighborhood opposed to the project.

Residents brought up concerns about traffic, flooding, and a lack of sidewalks, while council members questioned the developer on items like safety and space in the development for the elderly.

The developer, NRP Properties, LLC, requested – and the commission granted – building height, perimeter yard, and other variances for a 196-unit apartment complex on the site.

“The issues around flooding, around traffic, around sidewalks, I take those very seriously, but when I weigh them against the need for housing in our community, I have to make the decision tonight to say yes,” Councilmember Shayla Favor said.

However, despite the variances, NRP Properties has several more steps to take to make sure it is meeting the community’s needs, as determined by the city.

“If we are not getting what the planning departments have determined are absolutely required by the city of Columbus, then I am a ‘no’ the next go around,” Favor said.

This project, along with all the others, passed through the commission.

“It’s really just getting back to that supply and demand just to make sure that there’s more supply in the marketplace, again, to help stabilize prices so that families aren’t priced out of being able to afford a house in Columbus,” Council President Pro Tem Rob Dorans said. “We feel hopeful that increasing that amount of supply is really going to allow individuals in our community to get away from being so housing burdened and not have to pay 30,40, 50% of their income towards that, you know, keeping that roof over their head.”

The next step is not to put shovels in the ground, but for project applicants to conduct traffic studies, submit site plans, and apply for permits.