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Sign request, church rezoning top Marietta City Council meeting

Planning and Zoning chair discusses threats, bribes

Adam Schwendeman, attorney for Thiesen Brock, spoke to the Marietta City Council on Thursday about rezoning a church to be able to turn it into apartments. (Photo by Michele Newbanks)

Representatives from the Original Pizza Place in Marietta requested an exemption from a city ordinance at Thursday’s meeting of Marietta City Council.

Attorney Adam Schwendeman from Thiesen Brock said the shop had been on Second Street since 2012 and had invested more than $1 million in the building.

“They want to improve the building and they want to improve the facade,” he said, adding the business is asking for an exemption to place a perpendicular sign on the marquee.

Schwendeman said they aren’t constructing anything new other than the sign.

Kasandra Pritchett, customer relations and public relations manager for Pizza Place, said they rebranded in 2019 and want to add a sign that was inspired by historical references. She said they hoped to get it done before the shop’s 45th anniversary in December. The shop owners would like their business to be more visible.

Councilwoman-at-large Susan Boyer said the council has discussed neon signs at length.

“Do we want neon up and down Front and Second streets?” she asked.

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Schwendeman also spoke on behalf of the New Life United Pentecostal Church of Marietta, which owns property on North Seventh Street.

A citizens petition received 53 signatures in support of New Life selling the building to Marietta Industries LLC, who hopes to turn the building into apartments.

Schwendeman went before the council, asking for the property to be rezoned from an R-2 residential district to an R-3 residential district. R-2 doesn’t permit multi-family residences, he said.

Planning and Zoning Chair Geoff Schenkel said he would like to initiate the process of rezoning. Discussions such as parking and being across the street from a commercial zone will be part of the process, he said.

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Mayor Josh Schlicher had brought up the idea for a public arts commission in a recent council meeting.

“We had received calls in the last month or so concerning murals and different objects of art popping up on businesses,” he said, noting they wanted to get in control of it before it becomes “distasteful to some.”

He received an ordinance from Columbus, which would give the council a starting place for their commission, if they choose to create one.

Schlicher said the commission would give guidance on whether or not the art is approved or denied, so there are more eyes on the project. Art projects could include painted art, statues and monuments.

Boyer noted Columbus’ ordinance is only on art on public property. Schenkel said the limitations of the ordinance would be debated at another time.

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Schenkel read a statement to council about threats he has received.

He said he’s been monitoring threats since his first week in office, before this administration was in place.

He said in recent weeks, the threats have escalated, so he is looking at how to respond differently because a line has been crossed. Now his family is involved, he said.

City Law Director Paul Bertram was also advised of bribes Schenkel has been offered.

“I wanted to make you aware that I will seek independent legal counsel to protect my family,” Schenkel said.

Bertram recused himself as there is a conflict of interest, he said.

Boyer said the city should be involved in providing him with counsel to address the issues.

“I’m trying to pay out of pocket … and I need help,” Schenkel said.

Boyer said there needs to be a council meeting to vote on obtaining counsel.

“We may need a discussion with the attorney general,” Bertram said.

The meeting to discuss the matter was set for 4:15 p.m. Monday.

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