Before city voters on the March 17 primary ballot is Issue 18, an amendment to the zoning code expanding the permitted range of restaurant uses in the city.
The amendment will allow for a full range of uses, bring uniformity among the city’s commercial zoning districts and also address a growing trend of adding drive-through facilities to eateries, city officials said.
“Years ago, we put restrictions in some of our areas, not allowing restaurants,” Mayor Edward H. Kraus said, “and I think it has hurt us.”
That is particularly the case in the area of the Hobby Lobby and Aldi stores in the SOM Center Plaza, Mayor Kraus continued.
“There is a restriction there,” he said, “so if we wanted to put a McDonald’s on an out parcel (there), we could not do it. That is one example.”
City planners had indicated that the amendment is not intended to address an eatery like McDonald’s, which closed in the city on Aurora Road in 2015, but instead, expand the areas with high-traffic counts where restaurants could go. There has been no discussion about a McDonald’s going in the area of the Aldi’s and Hobby Lobby, but the fast-food restaurant has looked at various sites in Solon.
The amendment before voters would allow for all restaurants, fast food, casual and sit down, in the C-6 district, which is the plaza with Aldi/Hobby Lobby and Marc’s, as well as in an area on the west side of Solon Road between Bainbridge and Aurora roads.
The proposed amendment would also allow fast-food restaurants as a permitted use in the C-2 district along Kruse Drive in the area of the Uptown Solon Shopping Center and vicinity. Currently in that district, only sit-down and “quick-casual” restaurants, similar to a Chipotle, are permitted.
This change would bring the C-2 (Restricted Commercial) and C-6 (General Commercial) zoning districts in line with the city’s other commercial zoning districts, which already allow all restaurants. Those include the C-3 district, which is the area of the Solon Square Shopping Center on Aurora Road; the C-3-A district, which is the Giant Eagle Market District area at SOM Center and Aurora roads, the C-4 area, which is where a Burntwood, Rose Italian Kitchen and Chick-fil-A are located in the area of Solon Road near SOM Center Road; and the C-5 district, which is the area along Enterprise Parkway near the Solon Cinemas.
The C-2 and C-6 are the only two commercial districts, other than the historic commercial district, that does not allow for the full range of restaurant uses.
“Residents would like a different variety and more restaurants,” Mayor Kraus said.
The restrictions placed on that have hurt the city’s ability to attract new restaurants in the areas the proposed amendment addresses, the mayor continued.
“Those commercial/retail areas should be where restaurants go,” Mayor Kraus said. “Those are ideal locations.
“This was an old way of thinking and a time of the past,” he added of those restrictions placed long ago. “We need to move into the future.”