WORTHINGTON - The Worthington City Council tackled zoning issues and Hotel Thompson business during its regular meeting Monday night.

Regarding the Hotel Thompson, Worthington Director of Community Development, Planning, Zoning and Building Services Jason Brisson noted that a private party has come forward and expressed an interest in the building and would like to fix the roof itself. The party asked for some time to prepare all the financial information necessary.

The council generally agreed that a private buyer is an ideal solution if it works out. Members decided not to take any action, but also waived previous decisions made last week on continuing re-roofing and expelling residents.

The council also heard a second reading of a proposal to allow L-zoned properties to have water-based structures that connect to sewer and water facilities. The change was proposed by the Planning Commission, which feels that rather than continuing to grant variances to allow this individually, it makes more sense to change the ordinance.

Council member Alan Oberloh was opposed, citing the lack of requests from the public to make the change. The motion passed, 4-1.

Also on the agenda was a request to change the zone of property that’s home to Golden Horizons Assisted Living, allowing for a 16-unit memory care addition.

As discussed at the Planning Commission’s April 2 meeting, Golden Horizons owner KC Properties is looking to expand its facilities to include 16 units of memory care. The addition would take up more than the allotted land coverage and have more units per acre than allowed for its current zone (R-4, medium density), prompting the request for a zone change.

Brad Molgard, administrator of South Shore Care Center and Crossroads Care Center, attended Monday’s city council meeting to oppose the zone change. He expressed concern that a competing memory care unit may negatively affect his business. He cited the 17 empty beds at Crossroads in saying 16 additional beds at Golden Horizons are therefore unnecessary.

While claiming amiability toward competition, Molgard was adamant that an expansion of Golden Horizons would be a direct threat to South Shore and Crossroads. Oberloh responded to those remarks.  

“What’s in front of us is really not about you,” Oberloh said.

Council members agreed the question at hand could not take into consideration the creation of competition. In considering a zone change, the council should discuss neighboring zone designations and the comprehensive land-use map, among other factors.

Oberloh called the “postage-stamp” space allotted for the proposed expansion his main concern. To accommodate the tight space, the planning commission granted a variance allowing the property to use R-4 setbacks, even if it is designated an R-5 zone. The variance is conditional upon the property remaining a single story.

Oberloh asked if, to eliminate the spacing concern, Golden Horizons had considered purchasing the 50-foot strip of land to the east of the property, which is owned by Homestead Co-Op just north of Golden Horizons.

Brisson explained that in zoning considerations, advising the purchasing of additional land is not the city’s role. The question is simply whether or not the zone change is appropriate.

“Is it appropriate?” Oberloh asked. “Probably. Do I like it? No, I absolutely do not like it.”

Council members Amy Ernst and Chad Cummings assured Oberloh that if he’s concerned about the site plan, that comes later in the appeal process. The first reading ultimately passed 4-1, with Larry Janssen opposed.

In other business:

  • The council awarded leases on two plots of agricultural land. One is a 319-acre parcel located on airport land; a two-year lease of $60,610 per year was awarded to Paul Paplow. The other is 63 acres across from U.S. 59, which was also awarded to Paplow for $12,000 yearly for a two-year lease.
  • Mayor Mike Kuhle was selected as the representative to Cuero, Texas for the community’s Turkeyfest celebration.
  • The council established guidelines for awarding subsidies on projects.