Highland Heights Law Director Tim Paluf is preparing ballot language for an issue that would rezone the front of the former Catalano's property to motor service use. That would allow for a GetGo gas station/convenience store on the property at Wilson Mills and Brainard roads, which is zoned for local business.
"I'm somewhat encouraged," said Council President Cathy Murphy, who said developer Lance Osborne asked for the ballot language at a Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.
Murphy said that means Osborne and the city may be able to reach a deal on a zoning issue that requires approval in Ward 4 as well as citywide. That has been a demand of city officials since Osborne submitted petitions last summer that would bypass a ward vote by changing the local business zoning code to allow for gas stations.
"Let's see if we can get past this roadblock," Murphy said.
She added that a lot split would need to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission before the rezoning would be presented to voters. A development agreement also would protect the city by setting terms of a deal with Osborne and making variances contingent on voter approval of a zoning change.
Murphy said no rezoning would be needed for the back part of the parcel, where Osborne plans to build 25,000 square feet of retail space as the Shoppes at Brainard Crossing.
"Those shops Lance wants to do is allowed right now He's doesn't have to go to the voters for that," she said.
If Osborne does not agree to the ballot language, that leaves a stalemate regarding the petitions he submitted to the city. Osborne has maintained that the city is required to forward an issue for the change in local business zoning to the Board of Elections. However, Paluf said that the petitions are invalid because they address two separate zoning ordinances.
"Because of the two-subject rule, they're invalid. That's not to say that it can't be litigated," Paluf said.