Cleveland Heights proposes zoning code update

Because the city’s zoning code requires no review of proposed building demolitions, the Center Mayfield Building was demolished without any opportunity for public comment. Photos by Bob Brown.

Gas stations, car washes, auto sales and auto repair businesses could no longer be built along some segments of Taylor, Cedar, Mayfield, Lee, and Noble roads and Euclid Heights Boulevard under one of a series of proposed zoning code amendments being considered in Cleveland Heights.

Specifically, these auto-oriented businesses would no longer be permitted uses in the city’s C-2 Local Retail Business Districts and S-2 Mixed-Use Districts. The businesses would still be permitted uses, with conditions, in the city’s other main commercial district, the C-3 General Commercial District. 

This approach is consistent with the zoning regulations in many other local communities, where gas stations and similar uses are permitted only on more heavily traveled roads, separated as much as possible from single-family houses.

The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission will review the proposed amendments at its regular public meeting on Wednesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at CH City Hall. The commission will make a recommendation to CH City Council, which will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendments on Monday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

“You will find a common theme in the amendments,” said Planning Director Richard Wong. “It is to actively encourage beneficial development and to simplify frequently requested approvals.”

Although many of the proposed amendments are relatively minor and technical, several of them may be of general interest to residents. These include:

  • Fences: The maximum permitted height for fences in front yards and corner side yards would be increased to 4 feet from the current 3-foot maximum height, for one- and two-family houses and apartment buildings. Approval by the Architectural Review Board would still be required.
  • Chicken coops: These would be permitted through administrative approval, no longer requiring action by the Planning Commission. More detailed regulations for chicken coops would also be added to the code.
  • Storefront windows: In order to preserve visibility and passive security, as well as encourage pedestrian activity on adjacent sidewalks, no heavily tinted or mirrored glass would be permitted on windows for storefronts and other commercial buildings.
  • Small apartments: In response to changing market demand, apartments as small as 500 square feet would be permitted, whereas current regulations require apartments to be at least 700 or 800 square feet, depending on the zoning district.
  • Hotels: Hotels would be permitted, conditionally, in all commercial zoning districts, whereas they are now permitted only in one of the city’s zoning districts. This would affect development on the Top of the Hill site at Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard.

“The amendments came out of our desire to maintain and preserve Cleveland Heights’ architectural, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly character,” said City Planner Kara Hamley O’Donnell. “In many of our commercial districts, we can protect neighborhood character by reducing automobile-intensive uses, encouraging new buildings to mimic the setbacks in the district and requiring window visibility in all commercial buildings.”

The proposed amendments would change only zoning code regulations and would not change the zoning map. In other words, no properties would be rezoned under the proposed amendments.

View the proposed amendments and a city zoning map at amendments, zoning map.

FutureHeights has advocated for the adoption of a demolition ordinance that would require a public process before a historic building could be demolished. Such an ordinance is not part of the proposed changes.

Robert Brown

Robert Brown is a city planner with 40 years experience, including nine as Cleveland's City Planning Director. A resident of Cleveland Heights for more than 40 years, he recently joined the board of FutureHeights.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 12:25 PM, 02.20.2017