Westerville council to decide on Uptown DORA and an appeal hearing for detox facility

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group

A decision is expected by Westerville City Council on May 18 whether to allow a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area for Uptown Westerville.

Lynn Aventino, executive director of Uptown Westerville Inc., led the effort to work with merchants on the DORA, with the hope that locals and tourists could enjoy an adult beverage from a participating establishment as they sip and stroll through the historic commercial district.

A third reading of legislation is scheduled during the council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. May 18 at City Council Chambers, 21 S. State St. 

Uptown Westerville sign

If council approves, the ordinance technically would go into effect immediately, meaning the city has authorized the DORA, said Rob Rishel, economic-development coordinator. In practice, the process should take about two weeks, he said.

But the city first would send all required documents to the Ohio Department Commerce's Division of Liquor Control, which would change the liquor permits for the participating establishments to allow them to serve in the DORA.

Rishel said the initial businesses that had expressed interest in participating in the DORA were Westerville Grill, Koble’ Grill,  Tostadalicious, Good Vibes Winery, Jimmy V's Grill & Pub, Barrel & Boar, Asterisk Supper Club, Old Bag of Nails Pub, Cardinal Pizza, Uptown Deli and Brew and Meza Wine Shop.

Rishel said Uptown Westerville Inc. needs to have designated cups ready to go, so it really depends on when the cups are ready, but the goal is mid-June for implementation.

He said other businesses have expressed interest in participating, but any possible expansion would be reviewed by the end of summer.

Detox facility appeal

Council also is expected to decide May 18 whether to hear an appeal that has been filed regarding the Planning Commission's April 28 decision for a conditional use that opens the door for a detoxification and short-term residential substance-use-disorder treatment facility at 737-833 Eastwind Drive.

Westerville resident John Powell, who owns property near the proposed facility, said he had filed the appeal May 3.

Powell cited three reasons for the appeal:

• The public did not have the appropriate amount of time to respond to the application. Because of the winter storms and the COVID-19 coronavirus, he said, many people in the area did not know about it.

• The second issue is the statement that property values would not be affected. “If you know you would not want your home to be next to this facility, then the property value is affected,” Powell said.

• He said another important reason to not have the facility in this area is diversity fairness. “The condos in this area are at least 50% minority,” Powell wrote in his appeal.  “This is truly one of the most diverse areas of Westerville. If you would not put this facility, for example, at County Line and Spring, then you can’t fairly put it in this area.”

If council votes to consider the appeal, a public hearing would be held at a subsequent council meeting, said Jessica Hilts, deputy clerk of council.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla