Parking is at a premium in Clintonville.
The balancing act between encouraging redevelopment in the neighborhood and assuring not only adequate parking for new business but also minimizing that parking’s impact on neighboring residential streets is an ongoing issue – one that played out as the Clintonville Area Commission considered two variance requests at its July 16 meeting.
“Parking is always a concern, and the primary variances that people are applying for involve parking,” CAC member David Vottero said. “Along High Street and part of Indianola (Avenue), there is a commercial (zoning) overlay that allows for some reductions in parking.”
CAC member Judy Minister said that, even along High Street, there often is a lack of on-site parking, leading would-be diners and shoppers to search for other alternatives.
“Patrons often circle the residential streets numerous times looking for open spots,” Minister said. “Complaints about business patrons partially blocking driveways are common.”
“People don’t want to become the Short North with the parking issues there, but we do want successful businesses,” CAC member Libby Wetherholt said.
Concerns among some commissioners about minimal on-site parking resulted in July 16 votes against recommending three of five requested variances related to parking at 2864 N. High St., the site of a proposed new brewpub, including one to reduce the required parking from 48 to 10 spaces.
Presenting on behalf of the property owners, Evan Fracasso called the former Clintonville Outfitters site “walkable and bikeable,” pointing to multiple bike racks, a bike service station and available scooter parking. A plan to offer vouchers for patrons using Uber and Lyft has been discussed, he said.
“There should be no reason a business can’t sustain itself with limited parking,” Fracasso told the commission.
“I like being proactive in providing the bike service station, but we’re still a motorist-centric community,” said B.J. White, chairwoman of the CAC.
“Parking on side streets by this property is already very dense,” Vottero said. “This has the potential to overstress the streets in the neighborhood.”
“We say we want a walkable, bikeable community. Any business that goes into this building is going to require a parking variance unless the vast majority of the square footage goes unused,” said CAC member Dana Bagwell, who voted in favor of all five variances.
Fracasso said ownership has meetings scheduled later this week to discuss the next step in the process.
Commissioners voted to recommend two variances relating to the planned expansion of the patio at Condado, 2977 N. High St., including the reduction of the required number of parking spaces from 60 to 56.
The variance was set to be discussed at the July 23 meeting of the Columbus Board of Zoning Adjustment.
The Clintonville Area Commission serves as an advisory board to Columbus City Council, which is free to agree with or ignore the commission’s recommendations.
“When a plan that impacts parking is done well, we end up with a better product that serves the interest of the property owner and serves the community as well,” Vottero said.
“These variances are going to keep coming up,” Minister said during the July 16 meeting. “We are going to have to continue to consider what percentage (of reduction in parking spaces) we are comfortable with.”
“The philosophy of variances is that each stands on its own, and that even when they are granted, it does not set a precedent,” Wetherholt said.