The fate of a proposed Walmart at Westerville Square was tabled at the March 23 Westerville Planning Commission meeting at the request of the shopping center's attorney.

The fate of a proposed Walmart at Westerville Square was tabled at the March 23 Westerville Planning Commission meeting at the request of the shopping center's attorney.

After more than two hours of discussion and public comment in the nearly full city council chambers, attorney Ben Hale said he wanted to table the applicant's request for modification and approval of development standards text in order to address the commission's continuing questions. The matter will be taken up at the planning commission's next meeting on April 27.

Hadler Cos. CEO George Hadler was not at the meeting.

The Hadler Cos. wants to demolish space in the middle of Westerville Square and build a 108,441-square-foot Walmart in a space that previously held three stores. The Walmart would sell groceries and general merchandise, but would not have a garden center or auto service center (car parts would be sold, though), making it smaller than its typical store. The exterior of the rest of the shopping center would be renovated to match the newly constructed storefront, and changes would be made to the landscaping, parking lot and access points.

At issue is whether the modification to the shopping center is deemed to be minor or major. If the planning commission agrees that it is minor, it can approve the Walmart by a majority vote. However, if the commission considers the plans to be a major modification, then the matter would go before Westerville City Council for approval, along with the commission's recommendations.

City planning and zoning officer Bassem Bitar said staff looked at four major issues in determining whether the Walmart would be a major or minor modification: density, traffic, the 24-hour operation of the store, and the overall architecture.

"From a staff standpoint, we believe that the application is a major modification and requires approval by city council," Bitar said.

The Hadler team of architects and lawyers presented slides showing drawings of the renovated Westerville Square. They said some changes could not be made because of existing leases and ownership issues.

The company is offering $50,000 to improve the intersection at State Street and Schrock Road.

"In these kinds of developments, you're dealing with something that has 45 years of history," Hale said. "We have lots of tenants who have leases with us that we have to respect You have to find the best solution. It may not be the perfect solution."

Commission members said Hadler has made a lot of progress on his plans for the shopping center, but much still needs to be done, including adding more brick to the design, a median, another cart corral, a wall along Otterbein Avenue, limiting seasonal displays outside the store, and prohibiting truck deliveries between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

For more on this story, see the March 31 edition of ThisWeek Westerville.