Upper Arlington City Council members this week indicated they aren't interested in a request to allow retail businesses within the city's Office and Research District.
At a conference session Monday, Oct. 7, council members said they weren't inclined to consider rezoning four acres of the city's 67-acre Office and Research District (ORC) at the corner of Arlington Centre Boulevard and West Henderson Road to permit a jewelry store.
Barring a reverse in course, Pike Legal Group's request to allow its client, Hamilton Square Limited Partnership, to renovate a 3,140-square-foot former salon into a jewelry store at 5025 Arlington Centre Blvd. won't move forward.
"I would support not moving it forward at this time," Councilman Erik Yassenoff said.
Legal representatives of the proposed project attended the conference session but were not asked for input. Following the meeting, they declined to comment.
Council's decision to forego consideration of Pike Legal Group's request followed a unanimous recommendation by the Upper Arlington Board of Zoning and Planning to reject the rezoning.
It also is in line with a stance taken by council and other city officials over the last three years to preserve the ORC for office and research uses.
In a separate matter, the city since 2010 has not allowed Tree of Life Christian School to open a school at 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd.
In doing so, the city has maintained a school isn't a permitted use for the ORC -- which represents approximately 1 percent of the city's total land -- because it would create noise and traffic issues for other ORC tenants, and negatively affect Upper Arlington's ability to generate commercial tax revenue.
Senior Planning Officer Chad Gibson said Monday the amount of office zoning available in Upper Arlington is "extremely limited" and allowing retail uses within the ORC "is in direct opposition to a lot of the goals of our master plan."
"This is our bread-and-butter office site," Gibson said. "It is a minute portion of our land.
"Office uses generate significantly more income than retail."
In an "effort to be business-friendly and to complete a good-faith effort to help" Pike Legal Group, Gibson said, city staff identified several sites along Henderson Road where a jewelry store would be permitted without a zoning change. He said those properties were within a quarter-mile of the Arlington Centre Boulevard site.
According to a staff report, the ORC was established in 1971.
The staff report further stated a Diamond Cellar store operated in a building at the Arlington Centre Boulevard site until 1997, but city code provides that the "discontinuance of a nonconforming use for more than six months requires a new use to be compliant" with designated zoning.
In concluding that council isn't likely to move the rezoning request forward for a vote, Upper Arlington Mayor and Council President Don Leach said the city has always worked hard to protect its office district.
Councilman Mike Schadek agreed, and said there are alternatives available to Pike Legal Group if their clients still wish to open a jewelry store in the city.
"It seems like there's a lot of options on the table," he said.