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Green Council reviews plans for new district

1/24/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

GREEN — Green city officials are hoping a new district in the city will spur economic development along the Massillon Road corridor and make more liquor permits available in Green.

Legislation that proposes to create that new area — the Massillon Road Community Entertainment District, which city officials said is the first of its kind in the city — was discussed at the Jan. 22 Green City Council.

The proposed 735-acre district is roughly bordered on the north by Lindakay Drive and Berna Road, on the west by Tabs and Molly drives, on the east by Massillon Road and Interstate 77 and on the south by Boettler and Graybill roads.

“This entertainment district will create a vitality to the city,” said Planning Director Wayne Wiethe.

Wiethe said the boundaries for the entertainment district were established according to criteria that required $50 million in investments from both private and public entities in the past, present and immediate future in that particular area. One advantage for establishing the area is that it would “create the potential for more entertainment, retail, social, cultural and dining options,” according to the legislation.

Wiethe explained that would be accomplished by increasing the number of D5 liquor permits available in the city. He said the city currently has a shortage of D5 permits, which has hampered interest in establishing new restaurants in the area.

Councilman Jim Colopy (Ward 1) explained those types of permits are the most sought after because they allow wine, beer and liquor to be served until 2:30 a.m. every day.

Currently, the city has 13 such permits, with Acme, Giant Eagle and Grille 39 on a waiting list for one, according to Wiethe. An entertainment district would bring 15 new D5 permits to the city, he added.

“One of the only ways to get these permits is to create an entertainment district,” said Mayor Dick Norton.

During discussions on the matter, some Council members raised concerns about the types of businesses that would be attracted to the area.

Law Director Steve Pruneski said zoning within the entertainment district will govern the type of facility permitted. Zoning districts within the proposed entertainment district include B-1 (General Business), B-2 (Professional Office), PD (Planned Development) and I (General Industrial).

Adult entertainment venues are only permitted in B-4 districts, which are located around the Akron-Canton Airport and the Interstate Parkway area.

Council members also discussed the boundaries for the district and questioned why it did not extend farther south to include the Town Park Boulevard area, which has a lot of acreage available for development on the east side.

City officials decided to take more time to review the proposed legislation.

Council also discussed the following:

• legislation what would expand the required qualifications of individuals who serve on the Historic Preservation Commission, requiring at least two of five members to have a background in history, historic preservation, architecture, historic and prehistoric archaeology, landscape architecture, planning, folklore, cultural anthropology, curation or conservation; and

• legislation that would grant a special-use permit to Table for Life LLC and a general development plan for a gourmet restaurant at the former Belden Lodge, located in Southgate Park.

The lodge and about 9 acres were recently sold for $600,000 to Table for Life, which is owned by several investors, including French chef Kent Welsh, of Holmes County. The investors plan to spend between $600,000 and $1 million to make improvements to the property, with the city to pay for 10 percent of those improvements, according to city officials.

Wiethe explained a special-use permit was needed to allow a restaurant at the site, a use not currently permitted in an R-1 District.

According to the Planning Department, investors plan to renovate the existing building, construct a 20-by-30-foot concierge building at the front of the site for pick-up orders and a 20-by-40-foot building for a culinary program in the future. In addition, a 101-foot access drive will be constructed off Massillon Road, along with a parking lot for 102 stalls. All would be hard-surfaced. A new restaurant sign at the entrance on Massillon Road and site lighting and landscaping also are planned.

Council is expected to approve the legislation at the next meeting.

Also introduced at the meeting was:

√ legislation that would permit alternative parking stalls that would measure 10 by 18 feet in exchange for additional onsite green space. Currently, the required size of parking stalls is 10 by 20 feet. The change would require the additional 20 square feet for every parking stall in the new design to be used for green space.

According to the legislation, the proposed change is intended to reduce hard surface areas and not to maximize the number of parking stalls on a site. Also, the number of the smaller stalls cannot exceed the number that would have been permitted by the larger stalls. The change applies to all parking configurations except for parallel parking areas. The proposed changes were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Jan. 16, according to the legislation; and

√ legislation that would make modifications to planned development districts, which were suggested by OHM Advisors, a firm under contract with the city for consultation services. The Planning and Zoning Commission issued a favorable recommendation to Council Jan. 16.

Also at the meeting, Council approved the 2013 annual capital appropriations totaling $16.8 million. For more on that, see the Jan. 11, 2013, issue or visit the archives at www.akron.com.

During a public hearing at the meeting, Council approved six requests for designation as an agriculture district, including: 17 acres at 705 Killinger Road (Dean and Dorene Hartong, trustees); 14 acres at 4391 Cottage Grove Road (Konrad and Sidonia Pilz); 57 acres at 1017 Appleridge Road (Donna Galford); 212 acres at 486 E. Turkeyfoot Lake Road (John Beese); 20 acres at 1480 Greensburg Road (James St. John); and 39 acres at 798 E. Caston Road (Janet and George Esterle).

The next Council meeting is set for Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers at the Central Administration Building, 1755 Town Park Blvd.

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