Northland News

Variance means church won't have 666 spaces for parking

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By split votes, Northland Community Council development committee members gave their backing to the two variance requests on last week's agenda.

At the combined November-December session, Chairman Dave Paul said the committee supported a reduction in the setback for the McDonald's restaurant at 2091 E. Dublin-Granville Road and a reduction in the number of required parking spaces for a church at 6200 Cleveland Ave.

The latter case involved the desires of the board at the Church of the Pentecost USA to move into the former OhioHealth building on Cleveland Avenue near Community Park Drive.

"What's proposed there is a large church," Paul said.

Unfortunately for church members, the section of the shopping center they are in contract to purchase does not come with as many parking spaces as are required under the formula used by city officials.

That calculation, by a strange coincidence, called for 666 parking spots.

"Someone pointed out that's a rather unfortunate number," Paul said. "I mean, couldn't they round it up or down by one?"

Church representatives were seeking to have a variance to the 325 spaces on site with an agreement being worked out to obtain temporary use during services of another 116 spaces in the same shopping center, according to Paul.

The vote recommending approval of that variance was 12-2 in favor, with one abstention.

The application for the fast-food restaurant involves a new building on the site of an existing 1960s-era McDonald's that was torn down to be replaced by a new prototype. Variances related to the new construction have been before the development committee since August 2011, but some of those hurdles were cleared when the corporation acquired the site of a former Pizza Hut adjacent to the property.

"They were looking for a variance to reduce the setback from the public right of way," Paul said.

City code requires a setback of 110 feet "which is completely impossible along the (state Route) 161 corridor," he said. Every business along that stretch would be in violation if built today, he added.

McDonald's was seeking a reduction in the setback to 63 feet, "which is not too terribly out of line with the other businesses along that corridor," Paul said.

The setback reduction provides maneuvering room needed for the new restaurant's dual drive-through lanes.

"There was a fair amount of discussion," Paul said. "I think we explored the issue pretty thoroughly. I will point out it was not a unanimous vote. There were still some folks just a little concerned, mainly about the precedent it set."

The vote was 9-1 in favor, with one abstention.

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