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Boardman Township looking at the future

August 15, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Boardman Township Director of Zoning and Development Krista Beniston said the issue of having a good plan for the zoning department was something trustees were considering for some time. She said last year trustees budgeted for it. The plans began coming together this year.

"Compass Point Planning out of Cincinnati was hired to evaluate our code and come up with recommendations," she said. "Our next step will be to look at procedures and standards."

At a recent meeting held earlier this month, the preliminary evaluation was released, including areas that need updated to better serve the community. Beniston said there are several areas that need to be discussed and updated, but having a company on board that knows state law has been helpful.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Boardman Director of Zoning and Dvelopment Krista Beniston shows a zoning map that shows the variety of zoning that exists in the township. The Township is looking at changes to the zoning regulations that would take Boardman into the future and benefit residents and business owners.

The first area is reorganization and reformatting the zoning regulations. Bensiton said there is a need to make it easier to find things in the zoning regulations. She gave the example of fencing. To build a fence would require the property owner to look into four different areas of the Boardman Township zoning regulations to make sure they could comply. It is also an issue when it comes to set-backs, or how far off a property line anything can be built.

"If we were to add graphics, detailing what is allowed, it may make it easier to understand," Beniston said.

The second area to consider is updating the zoning code and processes. Beniston said this involves legal langauge which is always changing and is sometimes hard to understand. She gave the example of the Meijer store that wants to build in Boardman. The old codes called for a unanimous decision to overturn a zoning commission recommendation. In other words, if trustees over turned the recommendation, it would have to be a 3-0 decision. Today, that no longer applies and a simple 2-1 majority is all that is needed to overturn the recommendation.

Another issue she brought up was the code which now considers wineries that grow on site as agricultural, and therefore no permit is needed for certain types of construction.

A third area needing work involves the Boardman Township districts. Right now there is one "single-family" district, whether the property involves a half an acre or five acres.

"We have a proposal to move to R1, R2, and R3 districts, which will deal with giving a little more flexibility for those with smaller lots," Beniston said. "It would help people with smaller lots who wish to upgrade their homes."

The same issue applies to the commercial districts as well. Right now the business district treats all the same whether it is one of the narrow strip plazas along northern Market Street or a huge lot the size of the Kmart property. A variety of business zones could help set fair regulations for the large as well as the small commercial properties.

The fourth area Beniston said is being looked at is strengthening development standards. She gave the example of landscaping regulations that call for a certain number of trees and shrubs for a buffer zone. What it doesn't take into consideration is the type of trees or the actual site configuration.

Parking is another issue that sets a broad standard for everybody.

"We just require the same thing whether it is Walmart, a nursing home, or a warehouse," she said. "Anything differing from the standard requires getting a variance, which ties up staff and the zoning commission, and can delay a project for a month or more."

Another area being looked at is the sign regulations. Beniston said the trustees want to see a good balance and not a wild west free-for-all. She added that electronic signs are also a new hot topic for zoning.

Beniston said the program is about half way through. The ultimate goal is to come up with something trustees could approve as one big package.

The evaluation has been posted in its entirety on the web site buildingabetterboardman.com. There is also a place for comments.

"I would encourage specific comments where people may have wanted to build something and felt the [zoning] code was wrong," Beniston said. "Also, this is only for zoning, not for property maintenance issues. That is its own, separate animal."

 
 

 

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