Despite objections from neighbors, Gahanna's Planning Commission on March 14 recommended a zoning change at 790 E. Johnstown Road for business growth.

Despite objections from neighbors, Gahanna's Planning Commission on March 14 recommended a zoning change at 790 E. Johnstown Road for business growth.

Gahanna City Council will consider the recommendation from the commission at an April 16 public hearing.

According to planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard, applicant Kathy Weible has requested a zoning change from limited-overlay suburban office to suburban office for a 0.876-acre parcel at the corner of Johnstown and Hamilton roads.

The request to change the limited overlay to a straight suburban-office zoning would allow an additional 50 spaces for parking, she said.

Weible, of site owner Leader Development LLC, said the business is growing and in dire need of more parking.

"We're able to hire people for business purposes, but we have no parking," she said. "We don't want to stifle growth due to logistics."

The property is vacant and the proposed 50-space lot would boost parking capacity to about 118, said deputy development director Leah Evans.

Leader Promos, a promotional-products company, occupies a 6,900-square-foot building on the 1.4-acre adjacent lot.

"The additional spaces proposed will increase the productivity of the current staff that has to get up during the day and move cars because of the parking shortage," Evans said.

The additional parking would also serve the future needs of the fast growing company, she said.

Since 2006, Evans said, Leader Promos has doubled the size of its staff.

Weible said the business would like to hire 10 additional employees this year, adding to its 68-member staff. But that can't happen until more parking spaces are added, she said.

Resident Herb Wilke said the parking lot would be in his daughter's front yard.

"I own property to the south," he said. "What was good 20 years ago should be good today. To me, it should stay overlay."

Hamilton Road resident Kathleen Shaffer-Fletcher provided a petition with about 10 signatures opposing the zoning change.

"I understand they need parking, but I have concern for my neighbors' privacy," she said.

Hamilton Court resident Wynona Douglas was concerned about her property value.

"When I bought the property, I was told it was a preserve," she said. "I paid a lot for that property to see trees."

The existing overlay plan for the site, dated Nov. 18, 1998, illustrates a two-story, 9,500-square-foot building with 25 parking spaces, Gard said.

The existing trees along the east, west and south property lines were to be preserved, with a building setback of 80 feet on the west, 29.9 feet on the east and 20 feet on the south, she said. The site plan was prepared for a previous owner of the property and not Leader Promo, Gard said

Evans said the applicant plans to maintain landscaping and trees along North Hamilton Road that will buffer the proposed parking lot from the road.

Commission member Joe Keehner supported the change.

"We have a good business and they need the parking," he said. "That's a good reason to support it."

Commission chair Jennifer Price said she has given the application a lot of thought, considering the needs of residents and the business.

"I believe the parking lot is a less intense use than a two-story building for property owners, so I support it," she said.

The commission also approved a variance at 790 E. Johnstown Road to allow a temporary gravel parking area until the zoning request can be approved by council.