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  • Doug Smith

The unusual case of the white brick at CF Bank

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Council had an unusual issue in a January meeting: we held an appeal from a Planning Commission (MPC/ARB) approval. The MPC previously approved an exterior renovation of 7000 N. High St. (formerly CF Bank) from brick to white-painted brick with a black roof (images below).

Council Member Hermann appealed the decision citing multiple reasons why the CF Bank building should not be painted white.

Each Council Member has the authority to appeal any MPC and bring it to Council for an appeal hearing. Additionally, aggrieved parties in the community (i.e. immediate neighbors) can appeal MPC decisions to council. In these appeals to Council, council decisions are binding, and can only be appealed to Franklin County Court. These appeals are treated as a court case whereas Council becomes panel of judges in a quasi-judicial proceeding.

These appeals are rare. In my 11 years on Council, I have heard three other appeals. Even more unusual for this specific appeal is the outcome and how the final decision was made.

Since Council Member Hermann made the appeal, she decided to abstain (recommended by the city law director) from Council discussion and made it known she would not vote on the final decision. She gave her appeal presentation Council as the appellant. An aggrieved neighbor also spoke to support the appeal but was not a co-appellant.

The new property owner – who wants to paint the building white – gave a presentation about the approved proposal to MPC. Council asked questions and then decided to vote on the appeal. A “yes” vote means the property owner would have to revise the proposal and not paint the building white. A “no” vote means the property owner can paint the building white and change the roof to black as proposed.

To uphold the appeal, a majority (4) of Council needs to vote “yes.”

Three voted “no” – Bucher, Brewer, Kowalczyk

Three voted “yes” – Michael, Smith, Robinson

The appeal failed.

What’s interesting is there was clearly a majority of Council Members who did not want the property owner to paint the brick white (or at least not the way they proposed). If the aggrieved neighbor would have been the appellant (instead of a supporting witness), then the appeal likely would have upheld.

Now, the city will have a barn-style white brick and black roof at one of the entry points to the city (High and Caren).

You can watch the appeal video from the January 17, 2023 meeting on the city website

Please feel free to provide feedback on the decision, the process, or the project itself.


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