As BG residents ask for more dialogue, council introduces zoning legislation vote


Bowling Green Council on Monday introduced legislation to adopt the long-discussed and much debated update to the city’s zoning code, as residents continued to voice concerns about aspects of the proposed code.

Council is required to hold a public hearing on the legislation, which has been set for May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Veterans Building at City Park.

As has been the pattern in the past, concerns from residents at Monday’s meeting centered around the controversial Pedestrian Residential district.

Acting Council President Rachel Phipps said near the beginning of the meeting that council had recently voted to remove nearly all commercial uses as being allowed in the PR. However, two-unit dwellings remain as a permitted use, which drew attention from residents.

Rose Drain said that while full pages in the proposed code are devoted to building design standards in other zoning areas and districts, “there are no design standards in the proposed PR District. This district encompasses roughly 104 residential blocks of the city. These neighborhoods are historic with single family homes built in the late 1800’s through the 1930’s and 40’s,” she said.

“To preserve and protect a valuable asset of the city of Bowling Green, the central residential neighborhoods, there need to be design standards for this area of the city as well. New construction in these neighborhoods needs to respect what is already here and fit well with the historic existing homes. Please add design standards for the PR District.”

She said there were objections to the legislation, and they need to be addressed.

“There is strong opposition to the addition of more two-unit dwellings and accessory dwelling units in the central residential neighborhoods of the PR District,” Drain said. “The PR District, which is already riddled with non-conforming duplexes, triplexes and multi-unit buildings, does not need the burden of even more two-dwelling units or more ADUs. Please listen to the significant number of people who live in and outside of the PR District, over 650 citizens, who have signed the Save Our BG Neighborhoods petition. We are asking you now to amend the code to remove ADUs and two-unit dwellings from the PR District.”

“Hundreds of constituents don’t want more duplexes than we already have in our central neighborhoods,” said Anesa Miller.

John Sampen, who noted he serves as vice chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, noted that under state and local ordinance, the HPC is required to survey all affected residents and owners before they recognize a historic district. With the PR district proposal, “doesn’t it seem logical that city council might also conduct similar surveying?”

Steve Ricard said that there are still a number of questions that council has not yet answered on the issue, and requested that on May 1, at 5:30 p.m. “this council agrees to hold, I’ll call it a public meeting, where for that hour and a half we can listen to your answers, we can respond to your answers, and you can respond to our answers to your answers. We’re looking for dialogue here, people, and that’s the request.”

Councilman Greg Robinette, near the end of the meeting, noted as an informational point that the zoning ordinance was only receiving its first reading on Monday and as such could not receive amendments until the second reading.

Councilman Bill Herald notified the remainder of council that at the appropriate time – he said likely at the third reading – he planned to offer two amendments to the legislation: one to remove two-unit dwellings from the PR, and the second to cause the new zoning code – if it passes – to go into effect at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024.

“At a later time I’ll go through the details of the reasoning for it,” he said.

“Updating the Zoning Code will assist the city to implement recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan to help encourage construction of new housing, attract new businesses, protect natural resources, and place land uses where desired, to name a few,” stated the legislative package document prepared for council.

“Since the adoption of the Future Land Use Plan in 2014, there have been several additional planning documents created with public engagement, including: the East Wooster Concept Plan in 2015, the Community Action Plan in 2018, and the East Wooster Development White Paper in 2019. The legislation presented is the culmination of the various planning documents, the Diagnostic Report of the existing Zoning Code, and subsequent planning meetings by the Planning Commission and City Council.”

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