A rezoning request submitted to the New Albany Planning Commission for a food-truck-supplied restaurant with a small microbrewery on Central College Road will not be heard until February.

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, an earlier online version and the print version of this story published in the Jan. 30 edition of the ThisWeek New Albany News incorrectly reported the number of annual special events in the initial application for the proposed restaurant. The planning application sent to the city originally proposed no more than six special events per year.

A rezoning request submitted to the New Albany Planning Commission for a food-truck-supplied restaurant with a small microbrewery on Central College Road will not be heard until February.

After being tabled Jan. 21 at the request of the applicant, the proposal will be presented Feb. 19, according to the city.

The Planning Commission (PC) will NOT hear the rezoning request at 6678 Central College Road on 1/22. It has been moved to the 2/19 PC meeting at the request of the applicant. PC will meet at 7 pm on 2/19 at Village Hall, 99 W. Main Street. This meeting is open to the public.pic.twitter.com/fl0renbLr7

— NewAlbanyOhio (@NewAlbanyOhio)January 21, 2020

A newly formed business entity – comprising New Albany resident Brian Hamrick, his business associate, Joe Dwyer, and two other individuals who have been involved in various restaurants around central Ohio – want to repurpose the old church building owned by the New Albany Lions Club at 6678 Central College Road, near the crossing of Central College and state Route 605.

The applicant listed on the application is TFTFP LLC. Dwyer created TFTFP LLC in December 2017, according to the company’s filing documents with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

Meanwhile, a website in opposition to the project has been created at newalbanybrewery.com.

Aaron Underhill, an attorney who represents the business partners, said they thought it best to take another month to continue to evaluate the project and see how they could improve it to address concerns.

Underhill said the website launched in opposition to the project did not factor into the decision to table the rezoning hearing.

Chris Haag, a New Albany resident who lives behind the church building on Route 605, said he started the opposition website Jan. 8.

He said he is concerned about the proposed business’ proximity to the surrounding residential area, as well as noise and traffic.

“To find out that a property that is in this heavily zoned residential area and touches three residential properties is going to potentially turn into a bar – that was concerning,” he said.

Although New Albany is close enough to drive to Easton Town Center or to the Hamilton Quarter development on Hamilton Road, one is able to return to a quiet home, he said.

Haag, who co-owns another residence directly to the north of his own, said he has started a petition against the restaurant and brewery on his website. He said he wants to bring the petition to the planning commission and New Albany City Council.

He said he and others also have gone door to door to distribute the project’s initial application to residents, letting them know what is being proposed.

The rezoning application was heard Jan. 15 by the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord Implementation Panel, and similar concerns to Haag’s were expressed, according to Underhill.

“The accord was adopted in 1997 as a multijurisdictional land-use and development-policy guide covering portions of Columbus, New Albany and Plain Township,” according to columbus.gov. “The panel reviews development proposals (primarily zoning applications) for compliance with the accord plan and provides a nonbinding recommendation to the community with jurisdiction over the case.”

The nine-member panel has eight members at the moment, Underhill said. On Jan. 15, the six members present voted 3-3 on the rezoning application, which technically was a vote of disapproval, he said.

During the meeting, those opposed to the project said they were concerned about traffic increasing, whether the site had enough parking to prevent overflow in adjacent residential areas and if the venue would create too much noise, Underhill said.

Underhill said the business partners have hired a traffic engineer to evaluate concerns with congestion. A reason they asked to table the case until February was to ensure the information could be obtained ahead of the rescheduled meeting, he said.

Based on the partners’ analysis, the restaurant and brewery likely would generate about 30 more vehicles per day during the afternoon rush hour at Central College and Route 605, Underhill said. Based on traffic counts the city performed in June at that intersection, the intersection has nearly 1,800 trips at that time per day, he said.

“What we’re looking at is really a very minor increase in traffic,” he said.

Regarding the noise concern, Underhill said, he included a zoning standard for the rezoning application that would require that the restaurant and brewery use could not generate any noise that rises above the level of that which is generated by traffic on adjacent streets. The city would be able to cite the restaurant with a zoning violation if it would exceed that limit, he said.

Haag, who attended the Rocky Fork-Blacklick Accord meeting Jan. 15, described the room as "packed."

Many residents said they moved to New Albany to raise their children in a suburban-rural atmosphere, he said.

Residents “didn’t move out here hoping a bar would show up next door,” he said.

Haag said the site also is close to the Enclave neighborhood, which has many children.

Parking also is a “major concern” for residents, he said.

In addition, Haag said, the application doesn’t meet zoning standards, such as a 25-foot buffer between residentially zoned areas, and the venue would serve hard liquor.

Underhill said the business partners are seeking a planned-development-district zoning classification, in which a zoning standard’s text would govern the property. The zoning text does call for a setback of less than 25 feet, he said.

“However, this merely accommodates pavement, which is largely going to be installed over existing gravel parking areas,” he said.

Regarding parking requirements, Underhill said, the zoning standards the applicant submitted would propose one parking space per 80 square feet of building. City code would require one space per 75 square feet of building, he said.

“This is a minor difference,” he said.

Underhill also confirmed liquor would be sold at the venue.

“I would point out that hard liquor is also sold at places like the Rusty Bucket and Mellow Mushroom, and nobody seems to have a problem with that,” he said.

Closing times also are at issue.

Haag said the initial application called for a smaller number of special events per year that would keep the venue open through 11 p.m., but the applicants since have said they would hold 24 special events annually and the 11 p.m. closing time would only apply to food trucks. The planning application sent to the city originally proposed no more than six special events per year.

Regarding special events, the applicants are proposing holding 24 events per year, Underhill said. The term “special events” is meant to include not only holiday celebrations, but events such as wedding receptions or graduation parties, he said.

Although food trucks would close by 10 p.m. during normal operating hours, during special events, this time would move to 11 p.m., Underhill said.

The Lions Club building has been at the intersection of Central College and Route 605 since 1836, Underhill previously told ThisWeek.

He said the building is used for Lions Club functions and as a location for a church on a month-to-month basis.

Helen Pestel, secretary and treasurer of the New Albany Lions Club, said the club has owned the building since 1969, and churches have used the building since that time.

The club has not met there for about three or four years, ever since the Faith Christian Center of Columbus, which leases the building, wanted to use it full time, Pestel said.

Because the building has age-related limitations, the business partners believed equipping a full kitchen inside would be cost-prohibitive, Underhill said, and they decided to provide food via food trucks.

Two food trucks at a time typically would be at the restaurant, he said, although three could be there during city holidays, such as the Independence Day and Founders Day celebrations, he said.

The group also plans to build a small microbrewery in the building to provide beverages for the restaurant, Underhill said.

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