The Northland Community Council's development committee on Dec. 5 recommended approval of a residential hotel for the southeast corner of state Route 161 and Sunbury Road despite complaints about the project from several area residents.
Committee chairman Dave Paul said the committee voted 9-5 in favor of the project, with one abstention.
"We supported it with one condition, that the (development) text spell out that this can only be a residential hotel," he said.
Residential hotels provide rooms for consultants working for an extended time with local businesses or people moving into the area who have not yet found permanent housing.
Attorney Jill Tangeman of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease said state law requires corporate housing to be licensed as a hotel and residents must stay a minimum of 30 days.
She said the developer, Metro Development, wants to build a complex with 140 units on the 7.8-acre site.
The residential hotel would include an office with business hours during the day and a work room with computers and Internet access.
Tangeman said because of the residential nature of the hotel, it works best near a residential area. In this case, there are single-family homes to the south and undeveloped land zoned for commercial use on the west side of Sunbury Road.
The land at 5910-5942 Sunbury Road has not been annexed into Columbus, which must happen for the project to move forward, Tangeman said.
It will remain in Blendon Township after the annexation so the township will retain some property-tax revenue, she said.
Robert Evans represented the Blendon Meadows Civic Association at the meeting, saying 89 area residents signed a petition opposing the project.
Al Simmons, another area resident, said the residents have questions about the road access, traffic congestion and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requirements because the development backs up to Big Walnut Creek.
"I do not think there is enough solid information here with a concrete consensus in order for this property to move forward," Simmons said.
Resident Lynette Leidecker said traffic already is a hazard in the area and left turns off Sunbury Road are dangerous.
Tangeman said the traffic study for the property calls for Metro Development to build a left-turn lane at the driveway of 5866 Sunbury Road, the home of Lisa Pickens Silva.
The hotel has to access Sunbury Road at the driveway. An access road will be built south from the hotel on the east side of Sunbury Road.
Paul asked residents what type of development they would support on the property, and Evans said single-family homes.
Paul said committee members saw that as an unrealistic use of the property, which fronts a state route.
"Of all the commercial uses for that site, we felt, as a whole, this does a better job of protecting the neighbors," Paul said.
Residents could not provide written questions or a copy of their petition opposing the project during the discussion. But Evans returned later in the meeting with a copy of the petition.
Simmons said the residents could have provided documentation for the committee if they had been asked.
Brandon Boss, a development committee member who represents the Salem Civic Association, told residents the committee considers all public and written comments during deliberation.
The residential hotel application will be heard by the Columbus Development Commission before going to Columbus City Council for a final decision.