WORTHINGTON — The possibility of a text amendment to city code will be examined following a decision by the Worthington City Council Monday to table a request for a variance that would allow an applicant to expand his garage.

Daryle Albersman, who resides on Elmwood Avenue, is seeking a variance request to build a 42-foot by 8-foot addition onto his garage. The request was denied Jan. 5 by the Worthington Planning Commission, and Albersman appealed the decision to the city council.

Albersman seeks an encroachment of 8 feet into the required 10-foot side yard setback on his property. His current garage sits 10 feet off the southern property line and meets all current required setbacks. Albersman intends to remove a shed in the backyard if the expanded garage is granted.

A separate detached garage that could be as close as 3 feet away from the southern property line and 6 feet away from Albersman’s home could be built as an alternative, Worthington City Planner Jeremiah Cromie explained.

“We’re talking about a foot,” Councilman Chad Cummings said, noting the difference in encroachment between the allowed construction and Albersman’s preferred alternative. He also noted that Albersman received permission from neighbors to pursue the variance.

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Amy Ernst, who represents the city council on the Planning Commission, voted to approve the request during the Jan. 5 meeting, and reiterated her support Monday for its granting.

“He was unique in that property because he faces the golf course,” Ernst said. “If I was his neighbor, I wouldn’t want someone to build a big garage in the backyard and obstruct my view of the golf course.”

Chris Kielblock, who chaired the Planning Commission prior to his election to the city council in November, had a differing view.

“I don’t think the lot is that unique,” he said. “The issue that the property owners have is the city rules.

“We’re not dealing with this issue today, but for the years to come,” he added. “Just because they (Alberman) asked for the variance first … I don’t think it’s right that we give this property owner the privilege to do more with their land and piece of property than someone else.”

Cummings said it seemed like precedent had already been set in the city, as multiple property owners have been given similar variances. That brought a suggestion from Cromie.

“A proper way to address this would be through a text amendment to code rather than granting a variance,” Cromie said.

Councilman Mike Harmon spoke in support of Albersman’s request, noting the residences there were constructed in the 1950s.

“At that time, Mom stayed home and raised the kids and you had one family car,” Harmon said, noting that times have changed considerably.

Council members and staff discussed the potential for legal challenges on both sides, which ultimately led to a decision — prompted by urging from Cummings — to gather information on drafting a text amendment.

Albersman expressed a willingness to go along with the city’s desire to look into amending code. It’s possible that new wording would be presented for approval at the March 8 council meeting — that date would meet a required 60-day deadline mandated by the state, as Albersman filed his appeal to the city on Jan. 13. It’s also possible for the city to seek an extension of that deadline.

In other business, the council:

  • Followed the recommendation of the city’s Compensation Committee and extended eligibility for employees to use the 80-hour Emergency Paid Sick Leave benefit for qualifying absences from Jan. 1 through June 30, subject to any state or federal action that would necessitate reconsideration. Employees who used EPSL in 2020 would be limited to the hours, if any, remaining from the originally available 80 hours.

The action stems from March 2020 passage by the U.S. Congress of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which required public employers provide employees with additional paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19.

  • Declared the Worthington Fire Department’s aerial ladder truck as surplus property so it can be sold. The 102-foot platform aerial is a 1994 Detroit Diesel that has served the community for 13 years. It’s currently out of service and has been replaced with a 2014 Pierce 100-foot platform aerial.

  • Approved a change order for the movie theater building that includes modifications needed to meet code requirements, upgrades to electric, plumbing and other features to accommodate a theater. The additional $21,922.15 increases the total contract price to $3,970,951.70.

While the change order was approved unanimously, Cummings said he was “baffled” that the additional costs weren’t part of the original contract.

“It seems like kind of a late change order,” Mayor Mike Kuhle added.