A proposed open-air flea market on the north side of U.S. Route 33 could be the first use in several years for a 9-acre parcel cut off from downtown Canal Winchester in 2006 when the Ohio Department of Transportation removed the High Street traffic signal.

A proposed open-air flea market on the north side of U.S. Route 33 could be the first use in several years for a 9-acre parcel cut off from downtown Canal Winchester in 2006 when the Ohio Department of Transportation removed the High Street traffic signal.

Pete Ricart, whose family owns the property at 6270 Bowen Road, told the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission earlier this month that he would like to allow up to 200 vendors to set up shop at a flea market twice a month. There would be on-site parking and porta-potties, he said.

Ricart said the tentative name for the project is "Flealand." He said he had no plans to construct any new buildings.

Commission member Jim Knowlton said he remembered when one of Ricart's relatives set up a similar business on the same property about 40 years ago.Ricart spoke to the planning commission to gauge their interest. Zoning officer Andrew Dutton said that in order to move the project forward, Ricart would need to submit a site development plan and a conditional use application for outdoor storage. The 9-acre site is zoned general commercial.Several of planning commission members expressed concern about the proposal.

"The only issue I would have would be people leaving junk," Knowlton said.

Commissioner Mike Vasko wondered about limiting what could be sold, for example firearms and fireworks. Vasko also was concerned about signage.

"We don't like those big inflatable balloon" signs, he said.

Ricart said he wants "to be real subtle" with signage.

Commissioner Jeff Graber said he was worried about safety."My first concern would be traffic in and out of that relatively poorly designed, leftover access from Speedway," Graber said. "Getting in and out of there could be dangerous, or at least inconvenient."

Graber was also skeptical about whether a flea market on Route 33 would convey a good "image" for Canal Winchester.

"This 33 corridor is looked upon as the showplace of the village," Graber said. "This represents the village. What kind of image do we want to portray on this property?

"I would question a flea market that's not permanent, doesn't have permanent structures, doesn't have barns or something that makes it look organized, if it's thrown up on a table - I would question the appearance of that," he said.

Vasko, Knowlton and commission member Jennifer Solomon, though, seemed to warm to the proposal if the flea market were only in use on a limited basis, for example, a few times per month or solely on the weekends.

"You diminish the (33) corridor if you don't have a good tear-down and clean-up," Vasko said. "If you're there two days and gone, and you can't tell they were there, then you're no worse off than you are today."

The flea market will "not be seven days a week," Ricart said.

"This is an opportunity for the property to be improved" in the future, Knowlton said.