The Jerry Spears Funeral Home might get a second chance in Hilliard.
The Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on April 11 is expected to reconsider a rezoning proposal that would allow the funeral home to open in a former church building at 5505 Hyde Park Drive in Hilliard, commission chairman Scott Movshin said March 15.
The proposal had been rejected Feb. 14.
Commission member Bill Uttley asked for the reconsideration at the commission’s March 14 meeting. He said one member “did not vote properly,” and in light of a “procedural error,” the application for Jerry Spears Funeral Home should be reconsidered.
The March 14 measure was approved 4-0. Movshin, Tracey Nixon and Mayor Don Schonhardt were absent from the meeting.
Uttley would not explain the procedural error but said it was Nixon whose vote Feb. 14 to issue a negative recommendation concerning the rezoning proposal was the one in question.
On Feb. 14, commission members Chris Lewie, Movshin, Nixon and Uttley voted 4-0 to issue a negative recommendation for the planned-unit-development rezoning required for the funeral home at the former Parkside Community Church. Schonhardt, Brent Bergefurd and Jay Muether were absent.
When asked prior to the March 14 commission meeting whether she would ask for the funeral home to be reconsidered, Nixon said she could not comment.
After the meeting, Nixon did not reply to a question about if or how her Feb. 14 decision constituted a procedural error.
David Ball, the city’s communications director, said it is incumbent upon the commission that all interested parties are treated equitably and that cases receive fair consideration in accordance with city code.
“When voting, commission members are required to follow (code). If a vote does not align with that ordinance, it is considered a procedural error that can result in a case being reconsidered,” he said.
In this instance, a commission member gave thought to the reason for a vote and informed the chairman that the decision was not based on that code, Ball said.
“There was no discussion of which conditions that commission member felt had not been followed,” he said. “I think it is fair to say that the commission’s goal in reconsidering this case is to ensure that all parties involved are treated fairly under the rules and expectations that comprise the planning-and-zoning process.”
Uttley said he made the reconsideration motion March 14 at the behest of Movshin.
Movshin confirmed March 15 that he had requested Uttley to ask for the consideration via a statement he sent to Uttley and the city’s law department.
Movshin said he “was not allowed to discuss” the reason he asked for a reconsideration.
“I can’t talk about that until it’s reheard,” he said.
When asked if the motion to reconsider was a directive from the city, Movshin said it was not.
“I made this motion,” he said, referring to a prepared statement that Uttley read March 14.
Kelly Clodfelder, a staff attorney for Hilliard, said the city’s law department did not issue any directive but could not comment on whether any other attorney, including Frost Brown Todd, the law firm the city recently hired as its legal counsel for the rest of the year, provided any opinion.
Several residents from the nearby Brookfield Village, Hyde Park and Westbriar subdivisions have been opposed to the funeral home. For example, Karen Krimmer, who spoke for 20 minutes at the Feb. 14 meeting, described the funeral home as “a symbol of death” that would diminish property values and quality of life in the neighborhoods.
Bob Spears Jr., one of three family members who own Jerry Spears Funeral Home on Columbus’ Hilltop at 2693 W. Broad St., said he was “shocked” after the Feb. 14 decision.
He said March 15 he was unaware of the procedural error but was pleased with the commission’s decision to reconsider the application.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have another opportunity to become a part of the Hilliard community,” Spears said.