Only a majority vote of Hilliard City Council members – four of seven – now is required to overturn nonbinding recommendations of the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission.

Authorizing legislation was approved 5-1 on Feb. 25 and was effective immediately.

Nathan Painter voted against the measure. City Council currently has six members after the resignation of President Albert Iosue on Feb. 10; a replacement is expected to be appointed March 18.

Previously, a supermajority of five votes was required to reverse the recommendations for all rezoning matters except planned-unit-development zoning designations, said Kelly Clodfelder, a staff attorney.

The inconsistency in city code was discovered earlier this year when city officials were researching the rezoning application for Swensons Drive-In to determine whether four or five votes were required to overturn the recommendation of the planning-and-zoning commission, according to former city attorney Tracy Bradford, who resigned effective Feb. 1.

They learned only a majority was required, she said.

They also realized the city had erred in May 2016 by not allowing Point Blank Range and Gun Shop to set up shop at the former Jed's Fireballs & Brew and Damon's Grill, 3799 Park Mill Run Drive, Bradford said.

The property remains unoccupied.

Presented as a planned-unit-development modification in 2016, the planning-and-zoning commission rejected the proposed use by Point Blank, but City Council members voted 4-3 in favor of the proposed use.

However, city officials then incorrectly judged that five votes were required to overturn the recommendation of the commission and the misinterpretation of city code was not challenged.

Because it concerned planned-unit-development zoning, four votes should have been sufficient to reverse the commission's recommendation, Bradford said.

The statute of limitations to challenge it had expired by the time it was discovered, she said.

Concerning Swensons, only four votes were required and City Council in January voted 5-2 to approve the required planned-unit-development rezoning for Swensons, overturning the negative recommendation of the planning-and-zoning commission last August.

In light of the inconsistency, council members discussed amending city code.

Councilman Les Carrier said he preferred it be amended to remove the super-majority requirement. Painter said he preferred the opposite approach.

"It should be two-thirds to overturn (the) planning-and-zoning (commission)," Painter said.

City Council's decision "is a step in the direction of making (the planning-and-zoning commission) an advisory committee," he said.

"If that is the case, just get rid of P&Z and not waste the time and resources of the applicant," Painter said. "Have them go straight to City Council."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo