Residents hoping to block plans to build parking space in their neighborhood for a J. Liu restaurant and the city's second hotel submitted enough valid signatures to force a November 2018 referendum vote.

They hope to overturn a rezoning to allow a two-story parking garage and surface parking lot to be built where five houses sit at 2480, 2488, 2498, 2506 and 2512 Westmont Blvd.

The group collected 2,271 valid signatures from Upper Arlington voters, well above the 1,521 signatures – 10 percent of the number of votes cast in Upper Arlington during the 2014 general election – needed to put a referendum on the November 2018 ballot.

The elections board noted that 87 percent of the total 2,601 signatures the referendum group collected during its initiative were valid.

"I'm incredibly proud," said Amanda Hicks, a Westmont Boulevard resident who helped organize the referendum initiative. "I'm so grateful to the circulators and to everyone that signed.

"The response we received during the signature-gathering process was overwhelming and beyond our expectations," she said. "The sheer volume of signatures collected and validated, underscores that UA residents are against this rezoning."

In July, Upper Arlington City Council voted 5-2 to rezone the five Westmont Boulevard properties to allow Shanghai Enterprises to build a parking garage and surface parking for a J. Liu Restaurant + Bar and a Home2 Suites by Hilton at 1640 W. Lane Ave.

Councilwomen Carolyn Casper and Sue Ralph both voted against the rezoning.

In addition to the parking garage and surface parking, Shanghai wants to build a 7,600-square-foot restaurant and a 90,864-square-foot, 118-room hotel at the northeast corner of West Lane Avenue and Westmont.

The site is just east of the city's first hotel – a 109-room Homewood Suites by Hilton that opened in August 2013 at 1576 W. Lane Ave.

Attorney Jeffrey Brown of Smith and Hale LLC, represtnting Shanghai, said last month he wasn't authorized to discuss the project or the referendum initiative and he did not respond to a request for comment last week.

The project cannot move forward until either the developer and the referendum group negotiate an agreement, or the referendum is defeated in the November 2018 election.

Although the referendum petitions have been certified and a measure to reverse the rezoning can be placed on the November 2018 ballot, the referendum group has left open the possibility of pulling the measure if revisions to the project proposal are made.

But Hicks said her group also wants to find out more about the developer's long-term plans in the area because the company also owns eight properties on the west side of Westmont and the east side of Chester Road.

"Our group is not anti-development or naysayers," she said. "We understand the need for development and want to work with the city and the developers to build something that complements our neighborhood and community.

"The current proposed plan violates the (city) master plan and encroaches too deeply onto a peaceful, residential street and sets a bad precedent for the rest of the community. Our hope is to understand the developer's full vision because right now, we have only been told a small portion."

Hicks said once the group has a clearer picture of the developer's overall plans for the area, its members will be better prepared to make decisions about whether the referendum vote will proceed.

She said the group isn't prepared to comment about specific revisions or conditions it might seek on the development.

"(We) remain hopeful that, together with the city and the developer, we can build something acceptable for our street, our neighborhood, and our community," she said.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate