Plans are moving through the city for a car dealership, but some on Grove City Council are hesitant to approve its proposed high-profile location.
Byers Auto has submitted plans to build a car dealership on 12.3 acres on North Meadows Drive near London-Groveport Road and its new Interstate 71 interchange.
The site would house, according to the application, a two-story structure of about 33,000 square feet for a showroom, service department, body shop and offices. The lot would have parking for 387 vehicles.
It would be the city's first new dealership since the 1930s.
"This is going to be our first time in Grove City, and we're pretty excited," said Brent Rosenthal, an attorney representing the Byers family.
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage also called the proposal "exciting," adding that for Grove City to be a full-service community, a new car dealership would be "part of that puzzle."
"We feel complimented Byers has enough faith in our community to establish a new car dealership," he said.
On Aug. 6, the Grove City Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of a special-use permit to allow the dealership. The application now moves to council and requires two readings before a vote.
However, council President Ted Berry said he would not support a car dealership at the proposed site on North Meadows Drive. Berry said he's not opposed to car dealerships, but he in this case, it's a land-use issue.
"I have a problem with using 10 acres of prime real estate for cars," he said. "We need to have a bigger vision. ... I think it's extremely shortsighted."
Berry said he would rather the city wait to develop the high-visibility site with an office user in an industry such as technology or health care that would result in more high-paying jobs.
"We need to look for more economic diversity," he said. "I just think we can do so much better."
Stage said it would be shortsighted not to see the value and the jobs that a car dealership would bring.
Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw said a car dealership would be a nice business to have, but she is not sure if that is a good location. She said she couldn't say whether she would support the development or not, adding that she plans to visit the area, speak with people there and hear from the residents.
"I want to make sure I know all the ins and outs," Klemack-McGraw said. "I would not want to see that area become a Georgesville (Road)."
Councilman Steve Bennett said he couldn't comment on the proposal, adding that he hadn't had a chance to review it. He said car dealerships generally take up a lot of ground.
"I'd like to know how many real jobs are coming along with it," Bennett said.
Councilman Jeff Davis also said he needed to review the specifics of the proposal but said the general idea of a car dealership sounds good.
"Instinctively, I can't imagine why we wouldn't like that," he said.