Canal Winchester City Council, meeting as a committee of the whole Jan. 30, discussed several pieces of legislation related to commercial development, building and fire codes, all of which will come up for initial review by city council on Feb. 6.

Canal Winchester City Council, meeting as a committee of the whole Jan. 30, discussed several pieces of legislation related to commercial development, building and fire codes, all of which will come up for initial review by city council on Feb. 6.

Planning and zoning administrator Andrew Dutton and economic development director Lucas Haire presented several zoning code changes that would update Canal Winchester's commercial development standards.

"We started down this road because the last standards update from January of 2009 were very rigid, so it's hard for many developers to do anything without asking for variances," Dutton said. "Also, the current standards are under our building code and a lot of this doesn't apply to that."

The proposed changes include deleting the current commercial development language in the building code and moving it under the zoning code so it is in a more appropriate document and easier for developers to find, Dutton said.

"The reason we originally did both residential and commercial development standards is that we set up our planned districts, but we didn't have enough guidance for developers," law director Gene Hollins said. "So in essence, what this comes to be is that this is what we expect when drafting development text. Now a developer won't say, 'I didn't know what you expected.'"

New language in the update also changes the "build-to line," bringing buildings closer to sidewalks so they are more pedestrian-friendly, setting requirements on drive-throughs so they are not installed on the front of buildings, and setting aesthetic requirements that depend on whether part of a building faces a right of way or not, Dutton said.

Councilman Rick Deeds asked if these standards could be used to limit the numbers of any certain type of business.

"It's not the quantity of a type of business, it's just how close a number of them are to each other, and what happens if three of the same business compete and only one of them survive, and then we have two empty buildings," Deeds said.

Hollins said restricting the numbers of similar businesses is not a part of this text. However, he said the city could negotiate restrictions on a case-by-case basis with the developers of planned commercial districts and include those restrictions in that specific text.

Haire also introduced legislation that is required for the city to adopt the new state-mandated building and fire codes.

"This is a proposed ordinance to adopt and put in effect a new building and fire code by the state of Ohio that amends a number of sections in reference to HVAC, structures and a number of other things," Haire said. "We're require by the state to follow this if we want our own inspections," he said. "We've been doing it already; we just need to officially adopt it and this ordinance accomplishes that."

Councilwoman Marilyn Rush-Ekelberry said she was concerned about the separation between apartments in multi-family residences and asked if any updates were made to that language.

Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said there were several changes to the fire code but "that was not changed to put in a per se firewall."

"They're required to be fire-separated every four units, but I don't recall the specific requirements and there has not been any changes made to that," Bates said.

City finance director Nanisa Osborn said emergency legislation is being drafted authorizing an agreement between the city and Columbia Gas to allow Canal Winchester to relocate a gas transmission line owned by Columbia Gas near Jeff Wyler Chevrolet as a part of the Gender Road Phase 2 project.

"We'll be bringing legislation to authorize this work with Columbia to Monday night's council meeting," she said. "It will be emergency legislation since we'd like to move this construction project forward immediately."