Plans to Create a New Zoning Code

on Saturday, 09 October 2010.

Several West Side property owners support zoning that would ban adult businesses from opening near the casino.

Franklin County plans to create a new zoning code that would tightly restrict what businesses could pop up around the planned West Side casino.

Some community leaders want to keep strip clubs, adult bookstores and the like from going up anywhere near the Hollywood Casino site at W. Broad Street and Georgesville Road.


"The anti-tawdry zoning code," joked Edward W. "Ned" Hill, dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Where the new code would apply will develop as officials begin creating voluntary development standards for the area.

 That process could take nine months, said Franklin Township Trustee Tim Guyton. To give teeth to guidelines aimed at creating a seamless, maintained look for the neighborhood, the county is working on a new zoning code for the casino area to be added to existing county code, said James Schimmer, the county's planning and economic development administrator. Existing businesses would be grandfathered in. New code would affect only new development. "One thing the city and county said is we can't step on the rights of the property owners," Guyton said. "We're not trying to run people out of town."

But officials will have to be careful. The city of Hermosa Beach, Calif., recently lost a case over its efforts to keep out tattoo parlors, said Alan Weinstein, an associate professor of law and urban studies at Cleveland State University. A federal appeals court last month said the ban on tattoo parlors violated First Amendment protections on free speech. But the city of Warren, Mich., successfully argued in court that it could keep adult businesses out of an urban redevelopment zone because it allows them in other parts of town, Weinstein said.

Changes in Columbus' code are unlikely because the city allows adult establishments only in manufacturing areas, and most of W. Broad Street in the city is zoned commercial, said planning administrator Vince Papsidero. Adult businesses operating before 2003, when the manufacturing area requirement was added to the zoning code, were allowed to remain at their locations. Guyton said officials plan to hold a number of public meetings with property owners to explain their goals. He said skeptics might say raising standards in a poor economy will make it more difficult to redevelop property.

Others could say tighter zoning standards might raise property values, he said. One major property owner willing to give the change a shot is Plaza Properties, which gained full control of the Westland Mall site after buying out its California partner over the summer. "We're willing to go for tighter zoning standards," said Nick Vollman, Plaza Properties' vice president of commercial leasing. When Plaza Properties gets around to redeveloping the mall site, which sits in Franklin Township, it will need to be rezoned. The site, for some reason, was zoned industrial, Vollman said. Plaza Properties is still trying to determine how to redevelop the mall, he said.

Jeff Block, whose B.G. Land Co. owns about 10 acres along W. Broad Street and Phillipi Road, doesn't think stricter zoning will hurt redevelopment opportunities. "I know it has been discussed for the greater good of the entire area," he said. Penn National Gaming, which plans to open the casino by 2012, has made no suggestions on development standards or zoning changes, spokes- man Bob Tenenbaum said. "They really do want to leave this up to the community," Tenenbaum said.

 By Mark Ferenchik THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.