Jerry Spears Funeral Home is closer to opening a new location at a former church on Hyde Park Drive after Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission members voted 3-2 on April 11 to approve the required planned-unit-development rezoning.

The decision was a reconsideration after the commission rejected it Feb. 14.

Mayor Don Schonhardt, who was absent when the proposal was rejected, voted in favor, along with commission members Brent Bergefurd and Jay Muether. Chairman Scott Movshin and member Chris Lewie voted against it, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

Bill Uttley was absent, and Tracey Nixon recused herself from the vote.

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.

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, Lewie, Movshin, Nixon and Uttley voted 4-0 to issue a negative recommendation for the PUD rezoning required for the funeral home at the former Parkside Community Church at 5505 Hyde Park Drive. Bergefurd, Muether and Schonhardt were absent.

Nixon has not replied to ThisWeek's question about if or how her Feb. 14 decision constituted a procedural error.

Ball 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 previously. “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.”

Hilliard City Council still must vote on the rezoning recommendation.

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 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.

In addition April 11, a proposal for the Alton Place mixed-use development was tabled.

Read next week's edition of the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News for more on these stories.