CH passes revised zoning rule for adaptive reuse in neighborhoods

At a public meeting on Aug. 15, Cleveland Heights City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that amended the zoning code “to adopt regulations for adaptive reuse of existing institutional and other non-residential buildings in residential districts.”

Planning and Development Committee Chair Dennis Wilcox introduced the ordinance, which passed with a 4-0 vote (three council members were absent) on its second read. The legislation was amended after citizens made “quite a few comments about this piece of legislation," Wilcox said.

The new rule allows for vacant non-residential buildings in residential districts to be adapted for reuse by non-retail for-profit corporations. Allowable uses include multifamily housing, offices, industrial design, research and development, and education and recreation classes, so long as there are no physical modifications or "externalities" of the businesses that negatively impact the residents or the character of the neighborhood.

Based on comments from the public and the planning commission, the new law includes an additional clause emphasizing that any businesses participating in the adaptive reuse will be “compatible with the residential nature of the neighborhoods with strict controls to avoid negative impact upon neighboring properties.”

An emergency clause that would have caused the legislation to take effect immediately (instead of in 30 days) was removed after citizens expressed concern a week earlier about the propriety of its inclusion. Council had announced the change at a public hearing on the legislation, August 8. “We are responding to you by walking in this evening and saying, ‘Yes, you got it right, we didn’t,’” Council Member Cheryl Stephens said at the hearing.  

At the hearing, many residents expressed concerns that the zoning code changes would be a springboard for development of the Cleveland Heights portion of the Oakwood property. While the new ordinance affects every applicable building in the city, Council Member Bonita Caplan said at the time that the proposal was directed not toward Oakwood but toward the former Coventry Elementary School building.

Lewis Pollis

A lifelong Cleveland Heights resident and a proud graduate of Cleveland Heights High School, Lewis Pollis is an Observer intern and a sophomore at Brown University. Read more on his blog:

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Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 10:30 AM, 08.16.2011