The Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission Jan. 8, approved a Nonresidential Design Standards Certificate of Appropriateness for a site plan, architecture, landscaping and lighting for Pickerington Plaza, a proposed retail shopping center on the southeast corner of Hill Road North (state Route 256) and Blacklick-Eastern Road (state Route 204).
Applicant Northstar Realty LLC agreed to combine two adjacent parcels at the location and plans to construct three separate buildings on the 5.195-acre site.
The northwest portion of the site, adjacent to the Pisgah Cemetery, will consist of a 7,360-square-foot building, which would include a proposed Starbucks and three other restaurant/retail tenants.
The south portion of the site, bordering a proposed retaining wall, would consist of an 8,270-square-foot building with possibly a dental office and two restaurant/retail units.
Another 32,000-square-foot retail building facing Freedom Way would occupy the eastern portion of the site.
That building would include a proposed 12,600-square-foot Party City, which is a discount party supply retailer, and a 9,600-square-foot Pier One, as well as two other retail tenants.
Jack Reynolds, an attorney for Northstar, agreed to dedicate parking spaces on the west side of the site so both visitors and city maintenance crews can have access to Pisgah Cemetery.
Pickerington Plaza calls for 300 total parking spaces based on the formula in the Pickerington Zoning Code that will require 176 spaces for retail and 124 spaces for full-service restaurant parking.
City development services director Joe Henderson said the city was willing to allow Northstar to seek a variance through the city's Board of Zoning Appeals to allow for less parking in that Northstar's site plan indicated only 231 spaces.
"My personal belief is America over-parks," Henderson said.
"The city of Columbus cut down (parking) by 30 percent. We support a variance to under-park," Henderson said.
Commission member Ted Hackworth disagreed, saying it wasn't fair to compare Pickerington to Columbus when it comes to parking.
"(Columbus) has COTA (bus) access (and) sidewalks," Hackworth said.
"We don't have that out here. The only way to get from Point A to Point B is with a car," Hackworth said.
"Developers come in and they want to undersize the number of parking places, it's not enough."
Northstar officials said they will construct a five-foot wide sidewalk along state Route 204 going into the shopping center in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
City Engineer Greg Bachman recommended Northstar also install a five-foot sidewalk along the west side of Freedom Way, however, he indicated that was "not a strong recommendation."
Reynolds said Northstar won't install the additional sidewalk on Freedom Way because it "won't serve any more purpose than having access of (state Route) 204."
Hackworth said Pickerington needs more sidewalks and those with disabilities will be shortchanged by not having access off Freedom Way.
"I don't understand why we don't put a sidewalk there?" he asked.
"How does a person in a wheelchair or motorized (scooter) get into the shopping center?" Hackworth asked.
"I think if we're trying to make (this) an urban center we should require sidewalks along all our public roads," Hackworth said.
Bachman supported Northstar's plans to construct a dedicated right-in curb cut off 204 for vehicular traffic access to the site with a "deceleration right turn lane."
"We get traffic off 204 and on the site before the traffic signal," Bachman said.
"I want the access more curbed, (it will) make it less likely anyone (is) going to make an illegal left turn," he said.
The Certificate of Appropriateness was approved by a 4-1 vote of the Commission, with Hackworth casting the only vote against the plans based on his concerns about lack of parking and sidewalk access.
"I don't have a problem with the building and architecture," Hackworth said.
"I have a problem with the site itself and access to and from it."
A separate application for a drive-thru permit for the proposed Starbucks coffee business was approved by a 5-0 vote.