A proposed zoning change for business growth continues to spark debate over property at 790 E. Johnstown Road.

A proposed zoning change for business growth continues to spark debate over property at 790 E. Johnstown Road.

Development Director Anthony Jones recommended Monday, April 23, to the Gahanna City Council Committee of the Whole that favorable consideration be given to rezoning 0.840 acres at the corner of Johnstown and Hamilton roads as Suburban Office from Limited Overlay Suburban Office.

He requested council consider passing the legislation as an emergency at its next meeting May 7.

LeaderPromos, a promotional products business, has requested the change in order to allow the company to increase its parking capacity to accommodate the growth it has experienced.

Kathy Weible of Leader Development LLC has said the business is poised to hire additional employees this year, but can't do so until additional parking can be provided.

LeaderPromos' corporate headquarters is located on the adjacent parcel at 790 E. Johnstown Road; the zoning change would allow an additional 50 spaces for parking. In addition, an accompanying detention area could be constructed.

The Gahanna Planning Commission recommended March 14 that the zoning change be approved by council, despite objections from neighbors who don't want to lose a landscape buffer between their properties and the business.

Hamilton Road resident Kathleen Shaffer-Fletcher provided the commission last month with a petition, opposing the zoning change.

Jones said the property at the southeast corner of Johnstown and North Hamilton roads is the most appropriate location for LeaderPromos to expand its corporate campus and increase parking in order to accommodate employment growth. In addition, the proposed use for the property is permitted under Gahanna code.

"It's in alignment with the development of that corridor," Jones said.

Council member Karen Angelou said she wants a solution that would make neighbors and the business happy with the zoning.

She suggested the overlay be removed, with minor changes to the plan.

City Attorney Shane Ewald said the only option before council is the zoning.

Weible said the business wants to be done with the matter and has followed the city's regulations.

"Zoning takes a long time to do things right for everyone," Angelou said. "We have residents who have been there more than 30 years. The overlay is for protection."

Weible said the land was zoned for a building, not protection.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Bonnie Gard has said the existing overlay site plan, dated Nov. 18, 1998, illustrates a two-story, 9,500-square-foot building with 25 parking spaces.

She said the existing trees along the east, west and south property lines were to be preserved, with a building setback of 80 feet to the west, 29.9 feet to the east and 20 feet to the south.

Gard said the documents were prepared for a previous property owner, not LeaderPromos.

Council member Brandon Wright said council needs to focus on what's before it rather than "some happy compromise."

"If we put businesses through the ringer, I don't think we'd have them wanting to come here," Wright said.