After 20 years, Cid Canter has completed her final term on the Gahanna planning commission in December.

After 20 years, Cid Canter has completed her final term on the Gahanna planning commission in December.

Canter first joined the planning commission when Jim McGregor was mayor. The two played soccer together.

"I never even applied for the position," she said.

McGregor told Canter a seat on the commission was open.

Her first term was challenging, Canter said. Her degree was in education and the planning commission's terminology was Greek to her, she said.

At the time she joined the commission, the city of Columbus was holding a land-use class, which she attended every Tuesday morning for several weeks. The classes gave her an initial understanding for the job, she said.

Then there was the on-the-job training, or "baptism by fire," as she calls it. Her first projects were the Harrison Pond subdivision, the StoneRidge Plaza shopping center, Big Bear on Hamilton Road -- all major multi-million dollar projects, she said.

Canter said she learned from the other members of the commission. When she joined, Jack Stewart, Mark Adams, John Makar and Bunny Geroux were members. City staff members also were helpful, she said.

"The city has always had quality staff that also would explain applications before us and what the pros and cons were," she said.

Prior to making a decision about an application, commission members try to determine how a proposal fits in with a neighborhood, how it might affect traffic and how it compares to existing use, Canter said.

The project that took the most work was StoneRidge Plaza, which came to the planning commission in pieces. Commission members had to keep the overall project in mind as they approved individual portions.

"Mr. (Richard) Solove was the developer," Canter said. "He told us from the beginning where he wanted to end up. There were multiple parcels that had to be purchased as the piece was developing."

Commission members gathered a lot of input from residents prior to approving plans. Canter said the development was successful despite any initial concerns.

"You tell the developer, 'You build it and then leave,'" Canter said. "This sits in someone's backyard."

The purpose behind the StoneRidge development was to offer Gahanna residents more choices so they wouldn't need to drive to Whitehall or Dublin for amenities or to eat at a white-tablecloth restaurant.

Canter said the city's first master plan was completed in 1994, following a lot of input from residents. The No. 1 priority for them was a nice restaurant, she said.

Canter said she would miss the work and the challenge of the planning commission. She enjoys looking at projects she had a hand in making better. On the other hand, she said, it'll be nice to have Wednesday nights free again.

Dave Thom first joined the planning commission in 1991. Canter helped him learn the system.

"When I left planning commission in 2001, someone made a comment that I was a rock," he said. "If I was a rock, then Cid Canter was a boulder."

Thom said Canter has been that person one could lean on who was always fair and great with details. He said she had a knack for knowing a good site plan.

"She was always fair," Thom said. "She was not scared to tackle the hard problems."

In the 1990s the city of Gahanna nearly doubled in size, and there was a five-member planning commission. There were so many applications on a weekly basis that it was difficult to keep up with all the requests, he said.

Thom said Gahanna has come a long way in 20 years while Canter was on the commission. She had a big role in the city's growth, not just in population but also in quality.

"I am going to miss her," he said. "She was always someone you could lean on."

Gahanna Herb Center director Bunny Geroux was on the planning commission for 10 years. During that time, the two became good friends, Geroux said.

"A good commission member understands the city's zoning code and is willing to listen to people," she said. "It is like getting older. You have a little wisdom at this age."

She recalled that Canter always was prepared.

"I think that is three-quarters of it," she said. "To prepare yourself is wonderful. She was one that was always prepared."

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com