The city is looking to the state legislature for permission to create entertainment zones where additional liquor licenses could be granted.

The city is looking to the state legislature for permission to create entertainment zones where additional liquor licenses could be granted.

Worthington City Council on Monday approved a resolution supporting a change in Ohio's liquor laws that would permit the establishment of community entertainment districts (CEDs) in Worthington.

Council would then consider creating CEDs at the Shops at Worthington Place and downtown Worthington. The CEDs would allow more restaurants serving alcohol to open.

The city has met its limit in C-5 permits, which allow restaurants and nightclubs to sell beer and intoxicating liquor by the glass or in containers for consumption on or off premises. One per 2,000 residents is allowed, and Worthington already has the seven it is due.

Fifteen additional licenses would become available in each CED, which are zones where entertainment, retail, social, cultural, or arts establishments are in close proximity.

CEDs in central Ohio include Easton and the Arena District and two in Upper Arlington, at Kingsdale and on Lane Avenue.

Worthington cannot create a CED because it does not meet minimum population and investment requirements.

Mike Duffey, Worthington's representative in the Ohio House, plans to add an amendment to House Bill 243 - which he described as an omnibus liquor bill - that would change the requirements to include Worthington.

CEDs could help revitalize the mall and downtown, Duffey said.

Kevin James of Cassidy Turley, leasing agent for Worthington Place, said the amendment will help attract great restaurants and give the mall a competitive edge.

City staff has been approached during the past year by businesses wanting to establish new restaurants and bars in Worthington. In some instances, the city has lost out because of its lack of liquor licenses, according to a memo from economic development manager Jeffry Harris.

The bill should be approved before the end of the year, Duffey said.

Council member Bonnie Michael suggested staff prepare ordinances creating CEDs so that they can be considered by council as soon as the state law becomes effective.

Council also handed a mixed reaction to a citizen's complaint about two houses in his neighborhood that have recently been remodeled and now appear to be out of character with the neighborhood.

Both renovations met city building codes and, since they are not within the Architectural Review District, did not have to meet aesthetic requirements.

The houses in question are located at 287 Halligan Ave. and 195 Highland Ave.

The Highland house was already two-story, but roof dormers were added, along with a six-foot addition to the rear. Extensive renovations were also made.

The Halligan project included a second-story addition to an existing one-story house and extensive interior and exterior renovations.

"The ranch house is now a monstrous two-story (at least 35 feet in height), five-gable house with a stone and cedar fašade," Mark Leppert wrote in a letter to council member Bob Chosy. Leppert lives across the street from the Halligan renovation.

He suggested Worthington adopt a "residential conservation" ordinance like that in Upper Arlington. It requires new residential construction to be compatible with other houses on the block.

Council members Dave Norstrom, Scott Myers, and Lou Goorey all objected, pointing to Worthington subdivisions and neighborhoods that include houses that are not uniform.

One of Worthington's problems is its aging housing stock, Norstrom said. The city should not present any barriers to homeowners who want to bring houses up to date, he said.

Myers said that if he had not added on to his Colonial Hills home, it would be stuck in 1948 and he could not have raised a family there.

"I could not have survived with your restrictions," he said.

As Goorey was dismissing the citizen's recommendation, Chosy offered to craft an ordinance for consideration by the Municipal Planning Commission.

The commission will then report back to council.