They were small steps, but now that they're gone, they've taken a giant leap into bureaucratic complications.
"It's a snafu in its original meaning," Clintonville Area Commission Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt said at the Dec. 7 meeting when discussion turned to a since-removed flight of concrete steps that had been constructed on the sidewalk leading to the front door of the new Jimmy John's restaurant at 4409 N. High St.
The problem of the two concrete steps leading up to one of the shop's three entrances -- the other two are off the parking lot -- of the former chiropractor's office first came up at the commission's November session, and once again was front and center at the last meeting of 2017.
"They did jackhammer out the steps that were on the right of way, but that's not the end of it," Wetherholt said.
That's because Columbus Department of Building and Zoning officials have found the commercial overlay for that stretch of North High Street requires an entrance on the main street of the business. With the building right at the sidewalk, the doorway that exists is nearly 2 feet above the pavement.
CAC members voted 7-1 on Feb. 2 to oppose a parking variance needed for the new sandwich shop, but city Board of Zoning Adjustment members opted to grant the request.
However, in between the area commission's review and the zoning board's ruling, city officials determined a door onto North High Street was required.
"No door was shown on the plans that we were shown," Wetherholt said.
"I guess I'm just surprised that we would be presented with something that was not compliant," District 8 representative Christopher Allwein said. "Is there some way to see that doesn't happen again?"
"It should have been caught," Wetherholt said. "We have made a lot of noise about it. There was a big miss somewhere along the line."
"They should have recessed that doorway to be able to step up into the building," said Judy Minister, who represents District 4.
"I have no idea how they are going to remedy this," Wetherholt said. "That is way above my pay grade."
"It is my understanding that the engineer (for the developer) is working on an ADA-compliant plan to submit to the city of Columbus for review and approval," Jerry L. Ryser, manager of the right-of-way and permit section with the Division of Infrastructure Management, wrote in a Dec. 4 email to Wetherholt. "Once we receive their proposed plan our ADA coordinator will review and if it meets the city's requirements and when the plans get approved my staff will issue a permit to install."
"The city has no interest in maintaining, essentially, someone's stoop in front of their property," David Vottero of District 1 said. "They shouldn't have to, either. I was aghast they even thought they could get away with that."
As a result of the errant entrance and the steps that have since been removed, Wetherholt asked her colleagues on the advisory panel to consider creating a "code oversight committee" or at least appointing someone the task of seeing that what the commission approves is what actually is built.
"All this would take a bylaw amendment, which takes two meetings, but I wanted you all to think about it," Wetherholt said.
While it was residents who first brought the stairs to the city's attention, Minister said building inspectors eventually would have noticed the issue and would have withheld a certificate of occupancy for the business until the matter was resolved.
"The city is still the final authority," she said.
"I certainly will think about the concept, but I'm not sure it's something that will work," Vottero said. "It seems to me that we may be wading into things we're not informed or expert about as we ought to be. I understand the frustration. I really do."
When asked Dec. 8 about the new development, Brent Zimmerman, the Cleveland resident who owns the franchise rights to the North High Street site, said he had no comment.