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Site plan receives commission’s blessing

A new Giant Eagle grocery store to be built on East Main Street cleared another hurdle as the Bexley Planning Commission unanimously approved Continental Real Estate’s site plan for a two-story, 30,000-square-foot Giant Eagle Market District Express.

During the Sept. 22 meeting, residents expressed concerns that the new store, to be located on the current site of Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St., could increase traffic and congestion in the area. They also shared worries that lighting spillover may disturb occupants of homes bordering the site, and that safety issues could arise, especially if the store were to be open 24 hours.

The commission previously reviewed Giant Eagle’s site plan Aug. 25 and tabled the application for further review. Commission members said Sept. 22 they now believe the site plan presents the best possible option for the $6.5 million development to proceed, while addressing many of the residents’ concerns.

In response to a resident’s question about how the store would affect traffic patterns on East Main Street and nearby streets, commission member Mike Simpson said a traffic study by Columbus engineering firm E.P. Ferris Associates can provide only estimates.

“This is going to be a fluid situation,” Simpson said. “Just because we vote on something this evening doesn’t mean that it won’t change.”

Commission members attached a set of conditions to their approval, including limiting the store’s hours of operation to 6 a.m. to midnight.

Other conditions include:

* The applicant will collaborate with the city of Bexley to identify options for employee parking.

* The applicant will make an effort to save as many existing trees as possible at the site’s property line.

* The loading dock area will include signs to prevent customer traffic near the dock.

* Rooftop mechanical structures will be screened from view.

* The applicant will work with a city-appointed consultant on landscaping designs from the front of the building to the sidewalk in keeping with the design and urban character of East Main Street.

Continental Real Estate representative Jason Hockstock said the company can abide by the conditions.

“We agree with them,” Hockstock said.

The planning commission will review Giant Eagle’s lighting plan at a later date, after in-depth discussions with city staff, said Jason Sudy, the city’s planning consultant. The commission also will later review the store’s landscaping plan after it has been discussed in detail by the city’s Tree and Public Gardens Commission, Sudy said.

“We will refer a lot of the (landscaping) recommendations to them and review that with staff,” he said.

With the Giant Eagle plans moving forward, the current City Hall will be demolished. The municipal offices are scheduled to relocate by the end of the year to a space at the Bexley Square Shopping Center, just west of the current municipal building.

The city’s service garage is in the process of relocating to a site on Delmar Drive next to the police department facility, 559 N. Cassingham Road.

The city held a “wall-breaking ceremony” on Sept. 23 to begin the process of knocking down a wall to configure the space for the city’s offices.

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