Code section added for sidewalk dining
Gahanna residents likely will see more sidewalk dining in the future, thanks to Gahanna City Council’s April 16 approval of such a use.
City engineer Karl Wetherholt said the former Maya Grill had requested the ability to have sidewalk dining on public sidewalk rights of way last year.
The restaurant at 93 N. High St. since has changed hands, but the new El Arepazo restaurant also wants sidewalk dining. Wetherholt recently told council members that Gahanna hasn’t had provisions to allow sidewalk dining on public rights of way but that Columbus has had such a code for several years.
“We took Columbus’ code and made it more suitable for Gahanna,” he said.
Wetherholt said the legislation was created with input from the city’s development department and council office.
The new code section will allow sidewalk dining and temporary amenities to be installed in public rights of way.
He said requirements include a 6-foot corridor for passersby to have continuous access on the sidewalk.
Any interested businesses must submit an application that would go to Gahanna’s planning commission for approval. The business also would need to enter into a lease agreement. Council also held a public hearing April 16 to consider a zoning change of 0.840 acre at 790 E. Johnstown Road, from limited-overlay suburban office to suburban office for Leader Development LLC.
Development director Anthony Jones said the purpose of the proposal is to increase parking to accommodate business growth. The change would provide 50 additional parking spaces at the property, which currently is vacant.
Leader Promos, a promotional-products company, occupies a 6,900-square-foot building on the 1.4-acre adjacent lot. Applicant Kathy Weible said parking currently is “maxed out.” Hamilton Road resident Jim Boyd’s property in Jefferson Township is adjacent to the business.
“We’re against changing the overlay, not the parking lot,” he said. “We’re not against growth. Why not do the parking with the limited overlay that’s there?”
City attorney Shane Ewald said any modification would require that the overlay be removed.
Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the business would have to move out of Gahanna if parking couldn’t be added. She said part of the challenge is that the existing parking isn’t what was in the limited overlay. “It’s not built to specs,” she said.
Weible said tough discussions were held at Leader concerning the value of the land and the growth of the business.
“We’ve been there since 2006, and we’re behind the 8-ball,” she said. “We’re a growing business trying to do this on a shoestring budget.”
Boyd said he wants the parking lot within the overlay that was approved in 1998.
Weible said she doesn’t believe Boyd’s view would change much.
“We’re proud owners, and we want things to be nice for everyone,” she said.
Weible said the impetus behind the request is the need to hire more employees, and the business can’t do that until more parking is available.
Jones said the area is quite wooded and trees would remain in a buffer zone.
“The applicant has shown willingness to work with the neighbors,” he said.