Members of the Northwest Civic Association board of trustees May 2 -- after once again hearing strong opposition from residents of an adjacent condominium complex -- approved variances permitting the Graeter's Ice Cream store to relocate, but with three major conditions.
If those conditions are not met, President Nick Cipiti said, "It's dead."
"Without those things it's over," he said before the vote was taken.
Only one trustee, Julie Schlosser, voted against recommending approval.
It was the second meeting in a row at which representatives of the Cincinnati-based company sought variances to permit the northwest Columbus store to move from its current site at 2555 Bethel Road to a former Family Dollar building across the street, and also the second session at which they ran into upset residents of nearby condominiums who expressed concerns about possible noise and air pollution, as well as traffic congestion.
At the April meeting, Cipiti asked Graeter's representatives to work with the condominium residents to iron out some of the issues before the board would take a vote at the May session.
Revisions to the plan for the May 2 meeting included relocating where drive-thru customers would place their orders so the sound would not be easily heard offsite.
The vote was taken, but many of the neighbors to the proposed ice cream shop site remained unhappy, even with the conditions imposed in the motion for recommending approval.
Sharon Miller said it was "totally unconscionable" for the trustees to consider recommending approval without knowing the outcome of a traffic study on the store's potential impact.
"Is Graeter's willing to compensate us?" she said.
"I'm amazed that this would get approved without a traffic study," Jerry Hall also said.
Marilyn Goodman, chairwoman of the NWCA's graphics and zoning committee, tried explaining that it's not uncommon for the board to vote on matters while a traffic study is ongoing because the developer must abide by whatever is determined as the result of that process.
The other conditions imposed as part of the board's vote were that a buffer meant to keep noise and light from going onto the neighboring properties must be effective and that Graeter's develop a "good-neighbor agreement" with the condo residents.
"Graeter's is a good neighbor," Cipiti said just before the vote was taken. "Graeter's has been a good neighbor. We could do a lot worse than Graeter's."
In a March 27 email in response to questions about the proposed relocation of the Graeter's store, the manager of an advertising firm that provides public relations services to the company, explained why the relocation request was made.
"The current landlord of the Graeter's Bethel Road location is interested in leasing the entire space," Sue Reninger of RMD Advertising wrote.
Kevin M. Detroy, the attorney for Graeter's, said the company wanted a vote to be taken at the May meeting because the request is scheduled to come before the Columbus Development Commission on May 10.
It was Detroy who was charged by Cipiti with drafting the good-neighbor agreement.
He agreed, but said that would not be possible by the time the matter came before the Development Commission.