Gahanna City Council on Monday approved a license agreement with DHB Networks Ltd. to install a Wi-Fi network along city rights of way, making wireless services available for municipal services as well as residential and business customers.

Gahanna City Council on Monday approved a license agreement with DHB Networks Ltd. to install a Wi-Fi network along city rights of way, making wireless services available for municipal services as well as residential and business customers.

Council passed the measure on an emergency basis, granting an April 14 request by service and safety committee service director Terry Emery.

The service department last summer received five proposals for wireless broadband-network design and management services. DHB was judged to have the lowest cost and be the best provider.

Under the terms of the contract, Gahanna will pay DHB Networks $1.35-million for Wi-Fi. The payment includes $1-million this year and annual payments of $87,500 for the next four years to cover the city's use of the system.

The contract includes, but is not limited to, project design, build-out and management of a wireless broadband network for municipal purposes.

Council member Tom Evers said he was concerned about a letter he had received from AT&T representative David Kandel, complaining about the legislation. Evers said AT&T was offered an opportunity to bid on the project, which has been publicly discussed.

"I'm slightly disappointed in AT&T," he said. "This was slightly at the 11th hour and seemed to have missed some of the key points."

Council member David Samuel said the city will not be a service provider but will purchase service from a private company.

"It is similar to me using a service to log on," he said. "That is what we are doing here."

Kandel said after the meeting he was concerned about AT&T competing with city government to provide service. He said there is a lot of competition and good service among providers.

Gahanna technology director Kevin Marchese said he was relieved to see the project passed by council because it has been in the works for two years. He said the agreement stipulates the Wi-Fi services will be in place no later than March 2009.

Marchese said DHB has agreed to provide Gahanna residents wireless service for $24.95 a month anywhere in Gahanna.

Council members also approved rezoning 1.895 acres at 1245 N. Hamilton Road from community service to community-commercial district. Residents previously expressed concern about a potential Waterbeds 'n Stuff selling sexually oriented material.

Council member Tom Kneeland said council had a legal obligation to consider only the rezoning, not potential business use or other criteria. There was public outcry that "I believe we answered to the best of our ability," Kneeland said. "There seems to be enough control restrictions in place to manage any inappropriate business type uses."

City attorney Tom Weber said it was appropriate for city council to consider only the rezoning, not potential uses for a potential business that might want to lease the site.

He said the building department sent a letter specifically requesting what type of business might be located on the site and whether there would be a "back room" for a Water-beds 'n' Stuff.

"If we are not satisfied there will not be unlawful activity we are not going to sign a certificate as part of receiving a building permit," Weber said.

He said the back room of Waterbeds 'n Stuff would fall under the city's sexually oriented business ordinance.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com