Westerville News & Public Opinion

Westerville council votes down Cleveland-Main Tim Hortons


Tim Hortons and the city of Westerville were unable to create the right recipe for a cafe and bake shop at the southwest corner of Cleveland Avenue and Main Street.

Westerville City Council took the proposed Tim Hortons off the table Feb. 19 by voting down a rezoning and preliminary development plan to allow for the restaurant. The vote was 6-1 against the restaurant, with Councilman Pete Otteson casting the lone vote in favor.

"This issue (is) the traffic. I just admire all the attempts, but we do have the square peg in the round hole," said City Council Chairman Mike Heyeck.

The proposal from Tim Hortons was to rezone the 1.3-acre tract at 33 S. Cleveland Ave., formerly a Key Bank, as a Planned Community Commercial District from its current Office Institutional designation.

To accommodate restrictions on traffic entering the drive-through restaurant, Tim Hortons would have had to construct a median on West Main Street to prevent left turns in and out of that entrance.

Tim Hortons also would have had to create a dramatic "pork-chop" median at its Cleveland Avenue curb cut to restrict left turns there as well.

Both measures came at the advice of traffic consultants, though Tim Hortons representatives maintains that the traffic problems the medians were designed to deal with were not generated by the restaurant but are existing traffic problem in the area.

"Tim Hortons doesn't consider itself a traffic generator," said Donald Plank, the attorney representing Tim Hortons. "People don't say, 'Hey, I'm going to go across town to that Tim Hortons.' ... It really deals with the traffic that's (already) there."

Plank went on to say that Tim Hortons was an ideal fit for the corner because it would serve both the morning traffic along southbound Cleveland Avenue and the nearby Annehurst Village neighborhood, providing residents with a walkable business.

Residents from Annehurst attended the meeting to support the proposal, though Annehurst Village Residents Association President Jeff Inskeep said the neighborhood did not favor the proposed Main Street median.

"We think it's a great location. We think it's great for the community, and we don't like the bank that's sitting there in disrepair," Inskeep said.

The council members who voted against the measure all said they felt that a heavy use such as a drive-through restaurant did not seem an ideal fit for the location because it would exacerbate traffic woes in the already congested corridor.

Many members also encouraged Tim Horton's to seek other locations in the neighborhood.

"Everybody likes (Tim Hortons); everybody wants one right around the corner from their house," said Councilwoman Jenifer French. "It might not be the best use for this parcel.

"I think we have to look at not what's the best offer of use we've had in a while, but what's the best overall use in the long term, and that's where it's coming up a little bit wanting."

Westerville City Council chairman