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Green Council considering expanded entertainment district

2/28/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

GREEN — Green City Council continued to discuss the proposed Massillon Road Community Entertainment District, which would be used to attract additional hotels and restaurants to the Massillon Road corridor, during the Feb. 26 meeting.

“We want to bring family-type restaurants here to maintain the credibility of Green,” said Cindy Williams, owner and developer of the Green Project, a mixed-use development newly proposed for 23.5 acres of land on Massillon Road.

Williams said she is seeking to fill the development — just south of Graybill Road — with single-family dwellings, offices, retail shops and restaurants, which are being detoured from the city due to a lack of available liquor licenses.

Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said Green has a shortage of D-5 permits, which an establishment needs to offer beer, wine and alcohol daily until 2 a.m.

Interested restaurants now are being put on a waiting list for a license, he said. Often, a restaurant owner stops considering locating in Green once they hear a waiting list is in place, according to Wiethe.

He explained the city could offer 15 new D-5 liquor licenses by establishing the district, which requires at least 25 acres and a $50 million in investments in the area.

Williams said she strongly supports the creation of the district and believes it could entice well-known, local chefs to open up a new location in Green.

The originally proposed district encompassed 735 acres of property in and around the Massillon Road corridor but did not include Williams’ land.

At the request of Councilmen Ken Knodel (Ward 3) and Dave France (Ward 2), however, the city administration modified the boundaries on the original district proposal, specifically to include the Green Project, as well as the business area north of Interstate 77.

Council was presented with a new community entertainment district map that now includes 965 acres based on the Massillon corridor and surrounding areas in close proximity to I-77. The new map also encompasses the city-owned land on Town Park Boulevard.

The original district was created with the Heritage Crossings development in mind.

Jim Nilsen, president and treasurer of Albrecht Inc., was present at the meeting to vocalize his support for the entertainment district, as the company owns 18 acres in the heart of the proposed district.

He said Albrecht is constructing a 77,000-square-foot grocery store in Heritage Crossings, as well as filling 30,000 square feet of additional space with retail shops and restaurants that could include outside patio areas for unique dining.

Nilsen said he foresees needing up to five D-5 licenses to target the restaurant chains and small dining establishments —with local flare — he wants in the development.

“It is essential for us to see the passage of the district for what we have planned,” he said.

Nilsen would not announce any specific tenants at this point. Though, he said Albrecht is in serious negotiations with “nice tenants,” including “quality restaurants and community-oriented retail.”

According to Councilman Jim Colopy (Ward 1), residents want more restaurants in town, and he is pleased the original district map was expanded.

Colopy said Massillon Road, north of I-77, is in need of redevelopment, and he believes having the area part of the district will spur new business in that part of the city.

Councilman Chris Humphrey (at large) questioned the need for the area to be so large. He said he understands the need for additional liquor licenses to be available specifically to allow local restaurants to open up in Green, but he expressed concern over having the possibility of bars locating anywhere within the district.

Wiethe explained having an expanded district could encourage establishments that serve alcohol to spread out through the area and not all be in close proximity.

Resident Al Courtney said he is not opposed to having quality restaurants in the community, but he is opposed to the “alcohol element.”

He told Council having the right marketing professional could allow the city to receive family restaurants without increasing the availability of alcohol in town.

Resident Marg Elliott also spoke out against the entertainment district. As a retired nurse, she explained the negative impact increased alcohol activity can have on a community. Elliott shared stories of innocent families torn apart by drunken individuals who got behind the wheel.

Resident Rick Jacobson said he believes there are a number of customers, like himself, who do not typically purchase alcohol while dining out. He thinks most people who abuse alcohol purchase it at the grocery store and take it home.

Jacobson said he spends a lot of time dining out and would like to see an increased variety of restaurants in the city.

If used the “right way,” the district could be of “value to Green,” he said.

After the lengthy discussion, which included more public input, the committee postponed voting on the matter during the regular meeting, which followed the meetings of the Council committees Feb. 26.

“We will bring it back to discuss one more time,” said Councilman Gerard Neugebauer (at large).

During the regular meeting, Council approved legislation:

  • allowing an establishment to create 10-by-18-foot parking stalls, opposed to 10-by-20-foot stalls, at the discretion of the Board of Zoning Appeals if adequate open space is being proposed;
  • amending the city’s planned development regulations, which requires more open space to be offered in larger developments, among other changes; and
  • entering into a contract with GBD Group for professional engineering services for the Graybill Road Improvement Project;

Council also discussed the following:

√ a resolution awarding a contract to Karvo Paving for about $957,346 for the Greensburg (West) Resurfacing Project;

√ a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a contract with Burgess & Niple Inc. for professional engineering services for the Massillon Road Improvement Project; and

√ a liquor control transfer from EuroGyro, 4195 Massillon Road, to Don Nacho Mexican Restaurant, 3430 S. Arlington Road, which was approved.

In other city business, Council will hold a public hearing March 12 at 7:05 p.m. at the Central Administration Building (CAB), 1755 Town Park Blvd., regarding a resolution to establish a street lighting district for Stoney Creek Estates Phase III.

The next Council meeting is set for March 12 at 5 p.m. with committee meetings and at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers at the CAB.

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