A solution to the PR problem? New zone in BG will allow mix use


The City of Bowling Green has a new zoning designation to promote the mix of residential and commercial uses.

Councilwoman Rachel Phipps had previously introduced her new zone proposal earlier this month.

Council’s committee of the whole met Monday to continue its discussion of zoning code updates.

Phipps explained the yet-unnamed new zone would provide residents access to shops, services and employment opportunities within their neighborhood.

“Rachel brought it to us and said ‘what do you think about this?’ and it seemed like a great idea,” said city Planning Director Heather Sayler.

The goal will make commercial properties less intensive and meet the city’s comprehensive plan for mix-used zoning, she said.

The intent is to restructure what can go into commercial and industrial zones to better fit the neighborhood, Councilman Bill Herald confirmed. Without the new zone, the neighborhoods would default to their existing zone.

The plan will allow flexibility for older industrial buildings that can become better use for the neighborhood, Sayler said.

The warehouse at the corner of Maple and Pearl streets was used as an example.

“I think a new zone is a better fit,” Phipps said.

There are spots dotting downtown that are B2 commercial or M1 light industrial and those current zoning boundaries wouldn’t change; however, the new zone would treat those spots differently, she said.

Sayler provided a map that detailed where the new zone could be useful.

It included the former Sentinel-Tribune site on East Poe Road, the area around Dill Avenue and North Main Street, the southwest corner of West Merry Avenue and North Main Street, and large parcels of land bordered by North Church, Liberty and Meeker streets and Wallace Avenue.

The former South Main School site also is within the new zone, as are many of the properties to the west of Maple Street from West Wooster to Sand Ridge Road.

The former Klotz Floral Design and Garden on East Napoleon Road is an option as are the properties that makes up the businesses on Ridgewood Drive, the northwest corner of Poe and Haskins roads and the business lots along Haskins Road from Poe south to Ranch Court.

Businesses permitted in this new zone could include government and medical services, beauty shops and day spas, animal services and passive greenspace, and restaurants and retail services.

The new zone would have bars and taverns, microbrewers and micro distilleries, under conditional rules.

The new zone also would allow one, two and multi-unit dwellings.

There would be design standards to add value to the surrounding areas. Lot sizes would be a minimum of 30 feet wide and a minimum of 100 feet deep.

“It improves our zoning and it’s very pragmatic,” Herald said. “The approach is very good.”

“My priorities when we were considering this district … when you consider the previous uses that were permitted in these areas, this is really a more appropriate zoning approach,” said Mayor Michael Aspacher.

“This is new. We don’t necessarily know what the interest level in this sort of development is going to be,” he said.

Aspacher said he supported the map and new zoning as it was proposed.

The committee unanimously adopted the map and new zone proposal.

Also at the meeting, the committee:

• Amended the reconstruction timeline for improvements to damaged properties to 24 months from 12 months.

• Amended the maximum lot coverage to 70%, made a bed and breakfast conditional, and denied permission for nursing homes in the pedestrian-residential and central residential districts.

Council President Mark Hollenbaugh suggested council consider the issues of bed and breakfast inns and short-term rentals after the new zoning regulations were approved.

This seems to be a solution to the PR proposal that has roiled many Bowling Green residents. The proposed Pedestrian Residential district is a neighborhood area located in a rough, elongated donut around the downtown. The proposed area is bordered by Poe Road to the north, Napoleon Road to the south, and on the east largely by Enterprise Street. To the west, it is substantially bordered by Maple Street, but it also extends to include portions along Eberly and Gorrell avenues. Concerns about the area have in large part revolved around concerns about allowing certain commercial uses in the district, as well as worries about the potential for increased rental properties there.

A public forum on the issue last week drew 75 citizens.

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