Grove City Council gave the go-ahead to a proposed new car dealership last week.
Council unanimously approved an ordinance Sept. 3 granting Byers Auto a special-use permit to build a new car dealership 12.3 acres on North Meadows Drive, near London-Groveport Road and its new Interstate 71 interchange.
This will be Grove City's first new dealership since the 1930s and Byers' first dealership in the city. The company currently has 16 dealerships in nine central Ohio communities.
"Grove City makes 10 (communities) and 17 (dealerships)," said Brent Rosenthal, an attorney representing the Byers family. "We want to be here for a long, long time."
The project, according to the application to the city's development department, will have a two-story structure of about 33,000 square feet for a showroom, service department, body shop and offices and a lot would have parking for 387 vehicles.
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said he will happy when he sees the first ads for the Grove City dealership, calling the dealership an important component of making Grove City a full-service community.
"I will grin from ear to ear," he said. "We're very please to have (Byers)."
Rosenthal said this dealership is "Phase One" of a larger development on the site. The applications include plans for two future dealerships as well as two office buildings on the northern part of the site. Rosenthal said Byers is working with Trivium Development to add class-A medical offices to that part of the site and anticipates a formal development plan for those office this fall. The future auto dealerships, he said, will depend on the economy.
"The Byers family is going to develop any future dealerships," Rosenthal said. "For each of those, we'll come back separately."
Rosenthal said Byers anticipates employing 75 to 100 associates at the site and generating an annual income tax revenue for the city between $75,000 and $100,000. The medical facilities, he said, are expected to bring a $6 million payroll, which would give the city $120,000 in income tax revenue every year.
Council President Ted Berry previously said he opposed having a car dealership at that site, calling that site "prime real estate" and adding he would prefer the city wait for a technology or health care user. At the meeting, however, Berry voted for the plan, citing conversations with Byers, as well as the inclusion of medical offices and green space in the plan.
"I look forward to having you," Berry said to the Byers representatives.
The approval comes with three stipulations. The first, recommended by the city Planning Commission, allows the sale of used cars only in conjunction with the operation of a new car dealership.
The second and third stipulations, submitted by Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw, require Byers not to use "over-sized inflated displays, whirligigs, window paints, spinners or other attention getting devices" anywhere on the premises and limit the for-sale signs on cars to one side of the vehicle.
The Planning Commission also recommended a stipulation limiting the dealership's number of used cars for sale to no more than 40 percent of the on-site inventory. However, council dropped that requirement.
Rosenthal said there are times before the release of new vehicle models that the dealership can't control its percentage of new and used stock but added the dealership has a "self-policing remedy" in the form of sales quotas
Jay DuRivage of the Byers family said sometimes there outside factors, such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, that impact when the company can receive new models. Byers, he said, wants to be in Grove City and doesn't want to start out in violation.
"We don't want this to be just a used car lot," DuRivage said. "That's not what we're building. ... We're going to have plenty of new cars when manufacturers send them to us."
City Administrator Chuck Boso said the first Planning Commission stipulation covers the city's concerns about used cars.
"I think that gets us to where we want to be without somebody out there counting cars," he said.