Hilliard City Council is expected to decide Monday, Jan. 28, whether to approve a rezoning application necessary for the opening of a Swensons Drive-In at 4810 Cemetery Road, adjacent to J.W. Reason Elementary School.

City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.

Four votes would be needed to overturn a negative recommendation Aug. 9 from the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission for the Swensons, which is a northeast Ohio-based drive-in-style restaurant with no indoor or outdoor seating and at which orders are delivered to vehicles to be consumed there or taken to go.

Some city officials have expressed concerns about higher volumes of traffic and perhaps backups on Cemetery Road.

The developers of the proposed Swensons, whose signature burger is the Galley Boy, are Jamie Moore of Dublin-based Crawford Hoying and Tim Reardon, a managing partner of New Start Development, who together founded a limited-liability company for the project.

Budget vote

City Council also could approve the capital-improvements budget for 2019, including whether to keep proposed funding for improvements to Franklin Street, beginning at the Landmark Lofts development's entrance at Cemetery Road to Main Street in Old Hilliard.

The proposed capital-improvements budget for 2019 totals almost $18.6 million, according to city finance director David Delande.

About $1.6 million is budgeted for the project in 2019, with another $1.5 million budgeted in 2020, to add curbs, sidewalks, gutters, street lights and on-street parking to Franklin Street, making it similar to Norwich Street, according to Letty Schamp, Hilliard's deputy engineer.

Mayor Don Schonardt said the project is critical to city's effort to provide parking for Old Hilliard patrons and to facilitate an alternate transportation route between Landmark Lofts and Old Hilliard.

But some council members have suggested it is too much money to spend on a road with limited use, compared to other road projects.

"It's a lot of money to spend when it won't solve the traffic problems we have (in other parts of the city)," council member Andy Teater said.

Council member Les Carrier, at City Council's Jan. 9 session, suggested removing Franklin Street funding from the budget but deferred a decision until Jan. 28. Such projects as Scioto Darby Road's intersections at Walcutt Road to the east and Alton Darby Creek Road to the west are more urgent, Carrier said.

Meanwhile, council President Albert Iosue said he was concerned about money already spent toward the project at Franklin Street, as well as the likelihood that it would not be revisited if postponed.

"If it doesn't move forward (now) it won't get done anytime soon," Iosue said.

He said the city has seen "rewards" for the revitalization of Old Hilliard, where several new restaurants have opened, relocated or remodeled recently.

"(Improving Franklin Street) is part of the overarching idea to continue to encourage it as a destination," Iosue said.

Thus far, the city has spent $430,000 for the Franklin Street project, Schamp said. The money would not necessarily be lost, but it is possible that some groundwork would need to be revisited if the project were delayed too long, she said.

As proposed, utility relocations would begin almost immediately if the project were approved, Schamp said. Construction would begin late this year and the bulk would take place in 2020, she said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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