A review of city zoning codes as recommended by the recently approved 2015 update of the city master plan can help the city create a town center, city officials said.
After North Olmsted City Council approved at its’ March 3 meeting, the master plan update (which is required every 10 years by the city charter) Planning and Development Director Kim Wenger said examining the city zoning codes can strengthen North Olmsted’s business community.
“The plan recommends creating a town center overlay district in the zoning code,” she said. “But before we would get to the point of creating an overlay, we need to ensure that the base commercial district will help us achieve our goal.”
Wenger said the review can help show North Olmsted what it should do to recognize differences between businesses while also aiding growth.
“North Olmsted’s zoning code has basically one major commercial district that is used throughout the city,” she said. “It doesn’t differentiate between different scales of retail. The mall is treated the same as a small store, office or service establishment. We intend to take a closer look at our commercial zoning to determine if there are ways we can tailor our regulations in a way that recognizes these differences in scale.
“With the adoption of the 2015 Master Plan by City Council all of the final edits will be made and we will go to print,” she said. “Copies of the plan document will get into the hands of our elected officials, board and commission members and other key staff so it can serve as a day-to-day guide for decision making. I would like to imagine that over the next 10 years those plan pages will become dog-eared, underlined, highlighted and coffee stained from use. That would be a sign of a successful plan.”
Paul Schumann, chairman of City Council’s Building, Zoning and Development Committee and the council representative on the Municipal Planning Commission, said the examination of the zoning codes can help the city move toward establishing a town center.
“Surveying the current codes and seeing what we can do to make them better can help lead us to getting the town center,” Schumann said. “It’s not going to be a quick and easy process, it will take some time to consider and then work on.”
Schumann said, like the work on the master plan update itself, it should involve different parts of North Olmsted.
“It’s something we as a city should work with the business community and residents on,” he said.
Wenger noted the 2015 municipal budget, which was also approved at the March 3 council meeting, has provisions to fund part of the master plan’s recommendations.
“The 2015 budget includes funds to begin to tackle a number of areas in the master plan, including capital storm water improvements, reviewing commercial zoning standards, compiling a business mix matrix, and long range planning for the North Olmsted Recreation Center. Each goal of the plan will see some level of implementation beginning this year,” she said.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy said the master plan’s recommendations are important and need support.
“That’s why we included funds for working on it in the budget,” he said. “It’s my job as mayor to make sure we fund that work over the next five to 10 years.”