Church parking lot proposal again deadlocks City Council

St. Peters Lutheran parking lot rezoning request. Image courtesy of Columbus Planning Department.

A decision on a proposed parking lot beside St. Peters Lutheran Church in downtown Columbus again stalled at Columbus City Council last night, with the council deadlocking over the issue.

St. Peters is asking to rezone four properties along Fourth Street from residential and commercial community uses to public facilities use. The properties, just east of Chestnut Street would be turned into a parking lot with just over 40 parking spaces to support the neighboring church, school and outreach center.

Councilwoman Elaine Hilber said she remains concerned that the idea of a new parking lot in the downtown area goes directly against the conclusions of the Envision Columbus planning group. She said the plan explicitly says more housing is needed to revitalize the downtown area, but at the first opportunity opposing council members want to approve even more parking space.

When it came to a vote, Hilber, Tom Dell and Jerone Wood voted against the rezoning, while Frank Miller, Tim Shuffet and Dave Bush voted for the change. Councilwoman Grace Kestler recused herself from the vote because her family is affiliated with the church. With the 3-3 split, council continued to make no decision on the issue.

The council did vote to stop hearing the proposal at future meetings. Ultimately, the request will default to the plan commission recommendation, which looked positively on the issue, after 90 days.