Canal Winchester Village Council learned Dec. 20 that the village was awarded a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the second phase of improvements on Gender Road.

Canal Winchester Village Council learned Dec. 20 that the village was awarded a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the second phase of improvements on Gender Road.

In collaboration with the city of Columbus as lead agent, Canal Winchester applied for the OPWC grant. Construction services manager Bill Sims said the village would receive $2,095,847.

About half of the $4-million to $4.5-million project cost is being covered by a $2.1-million Ohio Department of Transportation grant the village received in 2009. Village officials originally met three years ago with representatives of Columbus to discuss Gender Road issues. They applied for an ODOT safety grant for $5-million, but they were awarded only the $2.1-million.

EMH&T engineer Steve Farst said competition was tough for the grants this year and not as much money was awarded for the projects. Only four projects in Franklin County received Local Transportation Improvement Program (LTIP) money.

One thing that benefited the Gender Road project was the collaboration between Columbus and the village, Farst said.

"It is an interesting collaborative effort," he said. "I am glad that it is going to work out. In the spring of 2012 we have to start (construction)."

Design work for the project will take place in 2011 with construction starting in 2012. Phase two plans call for increasing the number of lanes on Gender Road from four to five from U.S. Route 33 to Winchester Boulevard and going from two to three lanes in Columbus to add a center turn lane.

In other matters at Monday's meeting, council heard a second appeal from resident John Bakitis, who wants permission to install vinyl siding and put an addition on his home at 79 N. Trine St.

In October, the planning and zoning commission told Bakitis for the second time he couldn't install the siding. The commission had voted 6-1 in August to reject the use of vinyl siding and Bakitis' request to build an addition on the home, which is in Canal Winchester's downtown Historic Preservation area.

Bakitis appealed the decision to council, which had until Oct. 4 to decide whether to overturn the planning commission's decision. Council instead voted unanimously to send the request back to the planning commission.

Zoning officer Andrew Dutton said preservation guidelines highlight three factors to consider when changing from wood to vinyl siding: whether the wood siding will hold paint, the character of the building and the cost to maintain the paint versus siding.

Planning commission member Michael Vasko encouraged council to follow the preservation guidelines and shared a brief history of Bakitis' request.

"If you don't follow the guidelines, there won't be anything left to preserve," he said. "Everyone can come up with a reason to put in vinyl siding."

Council member Steve Donahue said the preservation guidelines say wood siding is preferred, not required, and that vinyl siding may be approved in rare cases.

Law director Gene Hollins said facts about the appeal will be ready at council's Jan. 3 meeting and council members will be ready to render a decision.

Dutton also announced the village received an application including a site development plan and variance request from Waterloo Crossing Ltd. to allow Staples to construct a 14,763-square-foot building on Winchester Boulevard, west of Walmart.

At the Dec. 13 planning and zoning commission meeting, Jim Visco, representing Casto, the center's developer, had told the commission an unnamed national retailer was interested in the property who "works well with Waterloo Crossing," and the company wants to open by fall 2011.

Staples asked for a variance for a larger sign than permitted by the village code. It wants 48-inch letters rather than 30-inch letters allowed in the Waterloo Crossing text.