The proposed Westerville Square Walmart will go before Westerville City Council for a final decision.

The proposed Westerville Square Walmart will go before Westerville City Council for a final decision.

The Westerville Planning Commission voted 6-0 on Wednesday, April 27, to declare renovations to the Westerville Square shopping center as major, meaning they will have to be approved by council.

The commission also voted 5-1 to recommend that council approve the renovations, as long as all issues can be worked out with center owner The Hadler Cos.

Commission member Amy Koorn cast the lone no vote and commission member Brian Szuch was absent for the vote.

The Hadler Cos. has proposed tearing down three storefronts in the middle of the center to make room for a 108,000-square-foot Walmart. The rest of the 48-year-old shopping center would be renovated to match the newly built storefront.

Since the proposal was presented at the March planning commission meeting, The Hadler Cos. altered the design to create a more traditional entrance to Walmart to tie in to the rest of the center, changed sheet metal roofing to shingles in order to create a warmer color scheme and moved a rear loading bay so that it would tie in better with the structure and be better hidden from view.

The company's new plans show a 10-foot masonry wall with a brick finish along the north edge of the property that will serve to block sounds from the center to Sugar Grove, a retirement center to the north.

The Hadler Cos. also committed to renovating outparcels along Schrock Road, which now include a Taco Bell and a Goodyear tire store, within 18 months of earning approval to renovate the center.

Planning commission members continued to express concerns over the company's plans, however.

"My biggest concern is traffic," Councilwoman Diane Fosselman said. "I'm still disappointed that we have the same number of curb cuts."

The site plan for the center shows all eight curb cuts being retained, though The Hadler Cos. has committed to paying for the city to install medians along Schrock Road and Otterbein Avenue that would force turns to the center to be right-in and right-out only.

Commission chairman Gerald Domanik said he's concerned about the fact that Walmart maintains that it will not come into the center unless the store is permitted to have a 24-hour operation.

"In my heart, I can't believe that that has to be a 24-hour operation," he said. "I just don't see it, with all the residential that surrounds there."

David Berger said the plan still has loose ends that will need to be tied up with members of council before it can be approved.

"We're not there yet on the traffic and access points. We're almost there on the architecture," he said.

For more on this story, see the May 5 edition of ThisWeek Westerville.