Rocky Fork Enterprise

North Hamilton Road

Opinions differ on plans for Firestone store

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Gahanna residents will have a second Firestone for their automotive needs, despite some concerns by a few neighbors and planning commission members.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on Jan. 9 approved a final development plan, a certificate of appropriateness, a conditional-use permit and a variance for Firestone to develop an 8,600-square-foot automotive service facility at 1120 N. Hamilton Road.

Firestone currently has a location on Morrison Road.

Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the facility would have 10 service bays parallel to Hamilton Road, with landscaping to minimize visibility to the street.

The site is at a signalized intersection across from Vista Drive.

Sanctuary Place resident George Mrus asked if Firestone has a policy in place in case of an exterior spill. He said he is concerned about possible contamination of McKenna Creek because of the site's close proximity to the creek and the topography of the area.

Stanley Stein, an attorney, said he was representing his wife, Eva Stein, an adjacent property owner.

"My concern is the noise," he said. "I'm also concerned about the environmental affects."

Mike Sundermeyer, of CASCO engineering in St. Louis, Mo., said oil interceptors that separate water from oil would be installed in the facility, as would trench drains.

"Firestone meets requirements for automotive use," he said.

Sundermeyer said a Firestone location in Tennessee conducted a study, and the noise inside the facility was quieter than the road noise in front of the building.

"It's a much quieter operation than people perceive," he said.

Regarding environmental concerns, he said, drained oil is pumped out and sent to a recycling facility.

Commission member David Andrews said he arrived at the meeting with the intent to vote in favor of Firestone, but he said it's proposed in an ecologically sensitive area.

"I just don't think that's the best site for this business," he said. "I'm surprised more neighbors didn't show up."

He voted against the use, as did commissioner Joe Keehner.

"I think they made a heroic effort to address aesthetics issues," Keehner said. "Because of the ravine and typography, I don't feel it's appropriate."

Commission member David Thom said it's probably not the best use for the property, but it could be worse.

"The plan is good, and they met criteria," he said. "I will support it."

Commission member Thomas Wester said Firestone is a responsible company.

"They've done a good job addressing issues," he said. "I think Firestone will be a good corporate citizen."

Jennifer Price, Kristin Rosan and Donald Shepherd also supported Firestone.

The business is expected to bring 11 full- and part-time jobs to Gahanna.

The certificate of appropriateness was approved for Firestone, with the exception of signs, which will return for review at a later date.

In other action, the commission approved a certificate of appropriateness for Jordan's Pub & Deli, 471-A and 471-B Morrison Road, to enclose the front patio of the deli and restaurant, creating a vestibule to reduce the wind entering the restaurant and improve energy costs.

A workshop was scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 16, to further discuss conditional use, final development plans and design review for Doc Thompson Plumbing. A 3,700-square-foot facility is proposed to house the office, parts and equipment of the business in the Eastgate Industrial Center.

The commission also set a workshop to further discuss building design for 83 Granville St. on Jan. 16. Because of an accident, the brick facade on the rear of the building was damaged and is unable to be matched and repaired.

A workshop also has been scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, concerning patio screening for Panera Bread, 91 N. Hamilton Road.

During the commission's organizational meeting, Shepherd was elected chairman. He has served on the commission since 2000.

Andrews was elected vice chairman. He has served since 2007.

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