BG might streamline zoning PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 07 June 2014 02:10
Proposed zoning changes that would significantly speed up the approval process for some properties — in part by removing Bowling Green City Council from the equation — will move on to council for consideration.
The measure, suggested by council, passed Planning Commission Wednesday night by a vote of 6-1, with two abstentions.
“This came from city council, and I think there’s a reason” they’re suggesting it, said commission member Jeff Betts prior to the vote.
The proposed changes concern three sections of the site plan approval process for S-District, or planned, zoned properties. This included certain residential, commercial, institutional and park properties.
If approved, the move could cut three months or more from the review process, which can often take as long as six months otherwise. Included in the changes is the removal of a final public hearing before city council, and a council vote. A public hearing and vote would still be held by the Planning Commission.
The move is “basically allowing so that the process comes through planning commission and is dealt with exclusively here,” said city prosecutor Matt Reger, who offered explanation on the matter to the commission.
Wood County Hospital had sought to change the zoning on its facilities, as well as adjacent properties along Conneaut Avenue, from S-3, planned institutional, to I-1, institutional, earlier this year largely because the I-1 zoning approval process moved along at what the hospital felt was a more efficient pace.
The hospital’s request was voted down by the planning commission in February; the hospital subsequently withdrew its request after learning of the proposed ordinance changes.
(See PLANNING on 5)
“We think this is a step in the right direction,” said Wood County Hospital President Stan Korducki at Wednesday’s meeting. “We are very much in favor of transparency in the public hearings concept.”
“We’re very much interested in a process that moves faster than the traditional S-District approval process,” he added.
Resident William Herald said “public hearings can provide incentive to organizations to meet and discuss potential problems with citizens.”
He urged that the commission vote the proposed changes down, and have a subcommittee seek out an alternative plan.
“There is a third alternative,” Herald said. “Seek out a change that leaves the public hearing in place, but shortens the overall approval process.”
After an exchange to clarify points with Herald, Betts said the planning commission “can’t stop a plan, a site plan, once it’s been approved by the planning department,” a statement echoed a number of times during the meeting.
It was noted that site plan matters come to planning commission to receive public input on the issues. The commission can then make suggestions about certain points of the plans.
“This leaves some possibility for input in place,” said member Mark Hollenbaugh. “Much like anything else regarding this sort of thing, we’re just being asked to make a recommendation to council on something that council has sent to us.”
Councilmembers Michael Aspacher, Bruce Jeffers and Sandy Rowland were in attendance, and were asked to provide background. Aspacher confirmed that at one point council considered the possibility of having the S-District zoning language indicate that the process be decided by council, leaving the planning commission out of it.
“We thought planning commission was better because you have more expertise” on such issues than council, said Jeffers.
Member Erica Sleek voted against the proposal. Richard Michel and newly-appointed commission member Kris Phillips abstained from the vote.
The matter will now go before council for a public hearing on June 16.
In other business, the commission re-elected its current group of officers to stay in positions. Ryan Holley will remain as chair, Jeff Betts as vice chair, and Julie Burton as the commission’s representative to the zoning board of appeals.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 June 2014 02:32
 

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