The city is laying the groundwork for a massive commercial makeover.
Bay Village officials heard public comment Dec. 10 on a new “zoning-overlay” to revitalize the city’s commercial shopping districts. City leaders hope the new zoning laws will attract developers and bring a wider range of retail and food options.
“The new code will provide more detail on what kind of uses are allowed and what isn’t,” said Councilwoman Sara Byrnes Maier. “It sets the table for if the property were to be redeveloped in the future, they know what’s expected of them.”
A second meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Dwyer Center for the initiative, which is dubbed “Stay in Bay.” After approval by the Planning Commission, council is expected to vote on the measure before the June recess, Byrnes Maier said.
The legislation is a set of laws placed on top of current zoning laws governing commercial retail. It lays out guidelines for developers interested in working in Bay Village. Issues such as building design and placement will be included to make sure they fit with Bay Village’s aesthetic, Mayor Paul Koomar said.
The city is concentrating on three points of interest for the legislation: the intersection of Wolf and Dover Center roads; the area along Dover Center on West Oviatt road; and Clague Parkway. The goal is to provide better retail, additional housing options and new community gathering spaces, according to city documents.
The overlay joins a larger group of projects that were part of the master plan council approved in 2017. Those projects include promoting walking and biking in and around commercial areas and increasing the vitality of the city’s center, Koomar said.
The initiative was presented by Jason Russell of Concord Consultants to a room of about 20 people. Reactions were mixed but generally positive, with residents expressing interest in more commercial options in the city.
Discussion about the initiative carried over online when Councilwoman Lydia DeGeorge posted proposed plans for the city on Facebook.
“I’d come back to Bay in a heartbeat if there were smaller apartment/condo type housing above a commercial area right in downtown Bay,” wrote Kimberly Schach in a post.
However, some city officials, including DeGeorge, are unsure whether mixed-use districts are appropriate for Bay Village.
“I’m not sure how to feel about it right now,” DeGeorge said. “I don’t want a Crocker Park in our city and I’m worried that if we do this, rent will rise and we’ll end up with vacant buildings that no one wants.”
Koomar believes the guidelines will provide a much-needed update to the city’s zoning code, which was written and approved in 1969.
“It’s critical that we update our code,” he said. “Our commercial area is in good shape, but it continues to age. We want to provide a new road map of the vision of residents for those property owners so that we can look forward to long-term investments that fit the character of Bay Village.”
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