Downtown zoning debated in BG PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Thursday, 03 January 2013 11:46
A citizen addresses the Bowling Green Planning Commission during a public hearing for two proposed ordinance revisions pertaining to the rezoning of several lots adjacent to East Wooster Street. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green's Planning Commission Wednesday night tabled a proposed ordinance that would create a B-5, transitional central business district.
The move followed a public hearing during which citizens suggested several changes and prohibitions that commission members felt they need more time to address.
The commission established a subcommittee to refine the ordinance in time for a Jan. 16 special commission meeting. The time will be announced.
"I propose we delay things," Dr. Gary Hess said. "The planning commission has an obligation to submit to city council an ordinance that reflects our best judgment and not just throw them a bunch of questions. That's not what they want."
Hess said the move would delay city council action from next Monday to Jan. 22. Council has its own public hearing on the proposal scheduled for next Monday night's meeting. There is no requirement for council to act that night.
Earlier in the meeting the commission unanimously recommended to council an amendment to the existing B-3, central business district zone, that would prohibit residential use on the first floor.
Council also has a public hearing scheduled for Monday on that proposal, along with a public hearing on the CVS pharmacy proposal.
Both the B-3 and B-5 proposals were outgrowths of public comments during Nov. 19 public hearings on three ordinances asking that several properties in the block bounded by North Prospect, East Court, North Summit and East Wooster streets be rezoned from B-2, neighborhood commercial, to B-3, central business district. The rezoning would allow development of a two-story commercial/residential building facing Wooster Street. The project would require demolition of one house on North Prospect and three on East Wooster, all now being used for apartments.
Council tabled the ordinances indefinitely at the Nov. 19 meeting. The B-3 and B-5 proposals were presented at council's Dec. 3 meeting and have since received two readings.
Since then some residents have asked council to slow down the legislation, suggested a need to flesh-out the B-5 proposal and even wait for a master plan update that would likely take 18 to 24 months.
Wednesday night several residents and their representatives presented specific suggestions to the commission.
North Summit resident Neocles Leontis said he had been in contact with Toledo attorney Michael Frank and asked Frank to speak on his behalf.
Corner of Prospect and East Wooster Streets. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Frank said the B-5 proposal as written would allow bars, gas stations, sexually-oriented businesses, tattoo parlor and Internet cafes. He noted that many of the city's zoning districts excluded certain uses and said the B-5 proposal ought to do the same. He suggested design criteria such as the use of monument signs instead of overhead signs, minimum side and rear yard setbacks and housing density (occupancy). "Look with foresight, not hindsight," Frank said.
Williams Street resident Russ Veitch pushed for waiting on a revision of the city's land use master plan, for which the city has budgeted money in its 2013 budget. "The city has said the master plan is old and in need of revision, a fact not contested by me," Veitch said. He said there would be nothing illegal about the city moving ahead without the update but suggested the right thing to do would be to wait. "Don't be bullied, do the right thing."
Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the BG Chamber of Commerce, said the B-5 proposal "is a direct response to the neighborhood concerns and sends a positive message about economic development."
Les Barber of North Prospect Street said, "The idea of B-5 is a very positive one" and added that it was critical that amendments be made to the proposal.
"The broader issue here is the rest of the block, particularly the Court Street side. What remains has to be protected. There is the idea of a historic district but solid protection would be to rezone the rest of the block to R-2 (single-family residential). The B-2 there now is not appropriate."
Court Street resident Nancy Lenhart said she has invested a considerable amount of money in her home, the Wood County Courthouse complex has been restored and there is no need "to let it all go to hell around it. We don't need more bars and tattoo parlors. Go through this and make it right."
Attorney Norm Geer, representing an unnamed owner-occupant in the block, said the commission needs to spend more time and "put some teeth" into the B-5 zone. "This is bare bones. At a minimum B-5 needs to have some prohibited uses. This is a good time to specifically exclude uses."
The commission discussion quickly led to Hess' motion to table the issue.
Subcommittee members are commission chairperson Ryan Holley, Hess, Mark Hollenbaugh, Rick Michel and Brady Gaskins. The subcommittee will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the City Administrative Services Building.SClBThe commission also recommended unanimously to council an S-district site plan for a 2,300-square-foot radiation and oncology addition to the Wood County Hospital Medical Building at 960 W. Wooster St. The addition will be located on the southwest corner of the medical building. WCH President and CEO Stan Korducki said the project will allow the hospital to offer radiology treatment to patients on a local setting. The only speakers during a public hearing were Mayor Richard Edwards and Kilpatrick, who both offered positive comments about the project.

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