BG council votes down “sunset” non-conforming occupancy legislation


Bowling Green City Council has voted down legislation that would “sunset” non-conforming occupancy uses in the city after 28 years.

Approximately 22 properties in the city would have been affected.

Councilmen Nick Rubando and Mark Hollenbaugh were the only “yes” votes on the measure, which failed 2-5, at council’s Sept. 18 meeting.

Councilwoman Rachel Phipps argued that she would not support the legislation, stating the ordinance would affect such a small number of properties, disproportionate to the substantial changes it would make to the city’s recently adopted new zoning code. Among the changes, she said the ordinance would alter standards utilized by the Zoning Board of Appeals in granting variances.

“I don’t think this ordinance can be fixed tonight, and again I think the problem of legal non-conforming occupancy uses is a small one,” compared to the proposed changes, she said.

“I assert that we do not know enough about the breadth and scope of the problem” to craft a solution, said Councilman Greg Robinette.

Rubando, however, offered support, saying “I do think it is a positive step in the right direction.”

“Just as you say we can err by voting no on this and perhaps take it up again in the next 40 years,” said Hollenbaugh, who is council president. “I say we can pass this tonight and if there is something wrong with that,” they can later vote to alter the legislation.

The proposed ordinance would have amended sections 150.85, 150.87 and 150.89 of the city’s codified ordinances.

In additional recent business, council met earlier this month and established their goals for 2024, which include:

• Continue to focus on neighborhood revitalization efforts and implementation of Community Action Plan-related initiatives, including ensuring rental regulations are adequately enforced; increased emphasis on streets, sidewalks and drainage and improving sidewalk quality throughout the city; and securing funding for the planned Crim/Carter Park shared use path.

• Updating Chapter 151 of the city’s codified ordinances, which covers bubdivision regulations.

• Continue the commitment to complete streets, including adopting a complete streets ordinance; completing a design study/traffic analysis for the downtown as called for in the future land use plan; contract for an engineering/design study on Main Street from Napoleon Road to Newton Road to add a combination of protected on-street bicycle lanes and/or shared use paths, and to evaluate infrastructure to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

• Emphasize council’s commitment to the city’s sustainability values, including creating a downtown pilot recycling composting program and increase energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

• Advance the Gateway project, which involves an area of zoning between downtown and Bowling Green State University, including finding a new location for the east side fire station, a topic which has been under discussion for several years.

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