By Blythe Alspaugh
TIPP CITY — Several members of the community gathered at Tipp City Council’s Monday meeting to voice concern and support for a motion to develop the alleyway alongside the Benkin Building for an outdoor dining area.
The motion was approved in a 6-1 vote by council after nearly an hour of hearing concerns from citizens and support from local business owners and leaders. Council member Joanna Pittenger voted against the motion.
Many residents were worried about the noise level and traffic impacting their day-to-day lives.
“I didn’t sign up to live in the Oregon district, nor did I sign up to live in that type of area. I don’t feel like the majority of residents in downtown want that,” Jim McKee, who lives in close proximity to the Benkin Building, said.
Several residents also agreed that they felt council should wait to approve the development of the alleyway until after the restaurant, Nate’s — A Neighborhood Pizzeria, was open and established in the local business landscape of Downtown Tipp City before developing the alleyway into an outdoor dining area.
“I thought you came to a respectable decision two weeks ago, and the way I understood that would be to allow the business to be established for a duration of time before going into an agreement to lease an alleyway between a public alleyway and a private business,” Liberty Graham said.
In support of the motion were local leaders such as Downtown Tipp City Partnership Economic Chair Reed Spencer and Executive Director Kim Bulgin. Bulgin specifically highlighted her disappointment that many of the things brought up during discussion were based off of conjecture and fear of the unknown.
“We, as business people, cannot work on fear or assumptions. We have to go with economic development. We have to go with growing. We have a small, charming, unique downtown, and I love that about our downtown — but sometimes, we have to think bigger,” Bulgin said. “It’s okay to keep some old, but it’s also good to bring some new. If we don’t ever give people chances, how are we ever going to know?”
Charlie Caroll, the proprietor of the restaurant going into the Benkin Building, helped in addressing some of the concerns raised by residents. He emphasized that the restaurant would be a family-focused environment, and that the outdoor dining area was seen as an asset for the community. Additionally, the restaurant would be responsible for keeping the area clean.
“I care about our guests, but I also care about those living in closest proximity to us, even more than those who are coming to visit us for a moment,” Caroll said. “I’m not interested in coming into a tight-knit community and being the person who causes a ruckus or gives people something to talk about that is destructive.”
Council member Ryan Liddy, who voted in favor of the motion, brought up that many of the “what ifs” that concerned citizens were addressed in the lease agreement, which could be revoked at any point by City Manager Tim Eggleston, per the motion. Additionally, he added that the alleyway would have to be inspected.
“I really think it’s important that, as a council, we send a message that we are going to welcome those outside the community, that we are going to come in with open arms and give you a chance. That’s what this is — a chance,” Liddy said.
Council also passed the following items at Monday’s meeting:
• An ordinance making a minor language change to Section 56.04(A) of the Codified Ordinances was unanimously approved;
• An ordinance modifying the Comprehensive Land Use Development Plan’s Future Use Map for two adjoining parcels within the Northgate Commerce Center Subdivision from “Industrial Node” to “Mixed Use Neighborhood” was approved in a 6-1 vote, with Council President Kathryn Huffman voting against the motion;
• A resolution to purchase fifteen Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for the Emergency Services Department was unanimously approved;
• A motion authorizing Police Chief Greg Adkins and City Manager Tim Eggleston to sign the temporary alcohol permit application for the Canal Music Festival and authorizing Eggleston to enter into an agreement with the Tipp City Area Arts Council was unanimously approved;
• A motion approving the use of the building in Depot Park known as the Depot Building by the Downtown Tipp City Partnership for the purpose of storage items as approved by Eggleston was unanimously approved;
• A motion to accept the recommendation of the Tax Incentive Review Council to find that the Granger Group/Randall Residence Tipp City Land LLC is in compliance with the TIF requirements and for it to be continued was approved in a 5-2-0 vote with Huffman and Liddy abstaining;
• A motion to consider the renewal of Agricultural District Designation for 81.82 acres located at 2081 State Route 571 was approved in a 5-2-0 vote with Huffman and Liddy abstaining; and
• A motion to approve the EMS Training Agreement between the City of Tipp City and Premier Health Partners was unanimously approved.
The next regular meeting of Tipp City Council will be held Monday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.