Northland News

Development panel tables action on two items


Members of the Northland Community Council's development committee decided to delay judgment on two matters last week, one because more information will be forthcoming and the other -- well, it got complicated.

"That is where we kind of got in the woods," chairman Dave Paul confessed.

In the first matter, a rezoning request had its own complications because it initially involved property in Columbus and in Blendon Township. A Turkey Hill convenience store with car wash is being proposed for 6193 Cleveland Ave., formerly the site of a Bob Evans restaurant.

The 5,500-square-foot store might be a brand new design concept for Kroger's chain of convenience outlets, if it's approved at the corporate level, according to attorney Christopher Rinehart of Rinehart Legal Services. He was on hand at the development panel's meeting representing TH Midwest Inc.

Rinehart suggested that the store, whether it's the new prototype or the existing one, will be one of the more finely run in the chain; corporate headquarters for the region are more or less just around the corner.

In addition to convenience-store items, this Turkey Hill would sell produce and fresh meats.

The store would be open 24 hours, have 10 gas pumps as opposed to the usual eight and sell beer and wine, Rinehart said.

City officials are requesting a traffic study, more pedestrian access within the city and the inclusion of a tree in place of one of the planned 44 parking spaces.

In light of the information city officials are still requesting, Rinehart more or less volunteered to return to the advisory body Aug. 28 to have a vote taken on the rezone request.

"I think when they come back to us next month it will probably be relatively quick," Paul said.

Where things got murky for committee members, Paul said, was on the third and final case of the evening.

That involved a request for a graphics variance that resulted from a zoning code violation notice issued last August, according to Stanley Young of the Columbus Sign Co., who was representing Oakridge Plaza Partners regarding the shopping center at 1269 Morse Road.

Formerly anchored by a Toys 'r' Us, the center at Morse and Maize roads now has the Saraga International Grocery as its main tenant, and that's how the whole situation came about.

In part, according to Paul, complications arose because the shopping plaza is actually in different parcels with different owners.

The Morse Road sign was changed to identify the center as the Saraga International Grocery Plaza. The new owners of part of the property were cited by the city once that change was made because the existing sign has eight panels for tenants in the plaza, while code only allows four.

The situation is further complicated because the sign at the Maize Road side provides a different name for the center, 21 Questions Center, for a store that is no longer in business. It, too, has more than the allowed number of tenant panels, although no citations have been issued.

"We're not even going to worry about that," Paul said.

In looking at ways to allow the existing Morse Road sign to still list eight tenants, he said the water is muddied even more because some of the listed stores aren't on the parcel owned by Oakridge Plaza Partners.

"As far as the code is concerned, it's the same as if that sign was three miles away as it is if it's 500 feet away," Paul said.

Off-premises signs are simply a no-no, he added.

"Quite honestly, we don't want this sign to remain ... with four tenant panels and a bunch of ugly blackout panels," Paul said. "It almost implies a high vacancy rate. It just doesn't look right; it looks broken."

Development committee members want to see a proposal asking for a variance from the limit on the number of tenants that can be listed on the sign and from the off-premises restriction, Paul said.