The Westerville Planning Commission approved a preliminary plan Aug. 24 to build two four-story office buildings with retail outlots at the northwest corner of Polaris Parkway and Africa Road.

The Westerville Planning Commission approved a preliminary plan Aug. 24 to build two four-story office buildings with retail outlots at the northwest corner of Polaris Parkway and Africa Road.

The plan, presented by Casto and the Daimler Group, will go on to Westerville City Council for final approval.

The planning commission unanimously voted that the preliminary plan should be considered a major modification to the site's original plan, which called for a retail strip center and retail outlots.

The commission was split on whether to recommend council approval of the plan, voting 5-2 to support the plan. Paul Johnson and David Berger voted against recommending council approval.

Commission member Brian Szuch voted in favor of the recommendation but said he did so only because the plan was still preliminary, meaning the developers would have to go before the city once again before any buildings are constructed on the site.

The major concern from the commission involved plans for a 71-space parking lot at the southeast corner of the site, at the corner of Polaris Parkway and Africa Road.

The developers presented a plan to buffer that parking lot from the road by creating a walkway for pedestrians between the parking lot and the roadway.

The area included shrubberies, trees and a seating wall. Grading behind the area was meant to entirely screen the parking lot from the road.

Commission members said they did not feel pedestrians would stop at the busy intersection and said they would prefer to see a building on the corner.

Representatives from the Daimler Group said not developing the corner as a retail lot was a concession from Casto, which would build the retail parcels, to allow a visible sight line from the road to Daimler's office buildings.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 1 edition of ThisWeek Westerville.