Upper Arlington City Council unanimously upheld a city board's approval of plans for a Lane Avenue hotel and mixed use development during a lengthy appeal hearing earlier Nov. 28.
Upper Arlington City Council unanimously upheld a city board’s approval of plans for a Lane Avenue hotel and mixed use development during a lengthy appeal hearing earlier Nov. 28.
Council voted 6-0 Monday to approve the preliminary and final development plans, along with conditional use permits and variances for a Cambria Suites hotel and mixed-use development, which would include a parking garage, apartments and both retail and office elements.
The appeal of the UA Board of Zoning and Planning Oct. 17 approval of the plans was filed by Westmont Boulevard resident Peter Whitehouse, who argued that the development should be scaled down to a “more appropriate size” before it is approved.
“The development proposal, while it contains several positive elements for the city of Upper Arlington, is ultimately a poor ‘deal’ for the city residents, especially those who live near the proposed development,” Whitehouse wrote in his brief to council.
“The project is too tall, too dense, extends too far into the residential area north of the PMUD within which it is primarily located, and impacts the area in a wholly inappropriate mannerÉ.
“The conditional uses and variances, by the sheer number necessary for the project’s approval, show that the development proposed is squeezing too much into too small an area, and will be bursting at the seams and overflowing the directly adjacent residential area with traffic, noise, cars, and parking.”
Council president Frank Ciotola had to caution the audience four times about comments and chatter while representatives of Lane Avenue Redevelopment LLC and city staff made their case for the seven variances granted by BZAP for the proposed hotel and nine variances for the mixed use buildings.
In explaining their decision, council members said developers had adhered to the city’s standards for development, and that while Whitehouse was well-spoken, he had not presented evidence that those standards had not been met.
“Variances are one way that BZAP looks at each project on an individual basis,” council member Debbie Johnson said. “This does meet our master plan, and I feel the developers have been responsive to the city, staff and residents.”
“All development is change, and change is hard in Upper Arlington,” council member Mary Ann Krauss said. “It seems to me the application has met our standards.”
Ciotola said that he was surprised a proposal of this size had not needed more variances.
“It’s been mentioned that there are a lot of variances,” he said. “I thought there were going to be more with this project. Variances are not that unusual for the size and scope of a project like this.”
Ciotola said that parking on Lane must be watched closely as the project develops, and that the city doesn’t have the best track record in that area.
“The residents probably don’t have much confidence,” he said. “I’d like (city) staff to take this issue very seriously.”
Whitehouse has the option to appeal the decision to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Following council’s ruling, he said he had not made a decision as to whether he would appeal.