An attorney for Kahoots on Kenny Road appeared at the Northwest Civic Association meeting on Dec. 5 to object to the "cartoonish portrayal" of the club during previous discussions on potentially replacing the business with a 219-unit apartment complex.
"This is a lawful establishment," Joseph M. Patchen said.
Regardless, Kahoots will be kaput if city officials follow the 7-1 recommendation of the association's board of trustees to back the proposed development by Preferred Living.
The vote, with secretary Alyson Miles the lone dissenter, came after several nearby residents at the Dec. 5 meeting and during a presentation in November had expressed concerns that an apartment complex of that size on what Jared Smith of Preferred Living said would be about 40 acres would only add to traffic problems in the area.
"The traffic in the whole area is very, very bad," said John Zettler, owner of the Kenny Road hardware store that bears his name.
Zettler Hardware would not be one of the parcels purchased for the project, and Zettler said he doesn't object to the proposal. He wanted to express concern about customers being able to get in and out of his parking lot.
"It's going to be torture, living there," said Janet McKew, a longtime resident of nearby Old Henderson Road. "I don't like Kahoots, believe me. I'm happy to have that gone."
But, McKew told Smith, she's not happy about an apartment project going up near her home with a density of 5.5 units an acre.
In seeking the board's blessing for the apartment complex, Smith and Nick King, another principal with the development firm, sweetened the pot by offering to provide funding to improve two city parks in the vicinity of the site.
"We're willing to commit dollars to it," King said.
"I believe Preferred Living really does want to be a good neighbor," said Nick Cipiti, the board's president.
Further, Smith said his firm proposed setting aside 10 percent of the apartments as affordable housing for those earning 80 percent of the median income in Columbus -- about $42,000 a year -- and another 10 percent for those who make 100 percent of the median income -- about $52,000 annually.
King said while this sort of effort to provide affordable apartments was being promoted in the heart of the city, particularly the Short North, Preferred Living was the only firm seeking to do it in what he called a suburb.
Patchen was accompanied at the meeting by Steve Kessler, manager of Kahoots. The attorney said Kessler attended to answer questions regarding the business, but none were asked.
Patchen said his client doesn't oppose the zoning change, in spite of Smith's claims at the civic association's November meeting that the owner tried to withdraw from a purchase agreement after City Attorney Zach Klein announced his office would no longer enforce the state's "no-touch law" at strip clubs. Rather, Patchen said he objects to the "cartoonish portrayal of what Kahoots is and what it is as a neighbor.
"It's a good, clean, well-maintained parking lot ... a lawful business, lawfully conducted," Patchen added.
"I'll bring the grandkids next time," Cipiti said as a joke.
"I think some of what's happening, because it's Kahoots, it's all going through easier," McKew said the morning after the vote in favor of the Preferred Living request. "It's really ridiculous, the density. I don't care that Kahoots is there. I don't like it, but I've gotten used to it. It doesn't cause any issues. It's kind of hidden back there. It's not on my doorstep.
"I have no problem with development down there, but the density is too much."