Bowling Green Council on Monday took “monumental” action, passing an ordinance creating the Gateway Zoning District.
The move, years in the making, is seen as a major step for the city’s future planning efforts.
“I think there’s a huge amount of enthusiasm to move forward” and make the district a reality, said Councilwoman Sandy Rowland.
The district emerged from a number of recommendations the city has received over the years from several planning processes, including the Community Action Plan and the East Wooster Redevelopment Strategy white paper, according to a document distributed Monday at a public hearing to discuss the measure.
The district itself is located along East Wooster Street, between Manville Avenue/Thurstin Avenue and Enterprise Street. According to a document by the firm Calfee Zoning, the district “is established to promote the development of a higher density, urban neighborhood center” along that area, “serving as a gateway and vibrant connection between Bowling Green State University and Downtown Bowling Green. The BG Gateway District respects existing surrounding development patterns while promoting desired development patterns along this important gateway.”
The ordinance bringing the district into being creates Section 150.49 of the city’s codified ordinances, and includes a variety of graphic illustrations, lot and site standards, massing and facade standards, building design elements and signage standards.
“This will, I think, be a great setup for the zoning code update,” said Planning Director Heather Sayler during the hearing, which was held by council’s planning, zoning and economic development committee.
It was noted that there were some minor changes to the ordinance compared to an earlier version.
What was termed the most substantive was a change in the side yard setback to a 20-foot maximum aggregate “to encourage that more urban neighborhood feel that is the stated intent of this new district,” said Committee Chair Rachel Phipps.
“This is a very encouraging document,” said committee member Greg Robinette. “I’m looking forward to getting this before council and implementing it, and looking for someone to invest in our community.”
“I think it sets the stage for some tremendous opportunity for an investor in our community,” Robinette added later. “It should make us all look forward to what we will see when we overhaul the entire code. This is a nice sample of the kind of quality document we can look forward to. … It’s more than a great first step, its an opportunity to make the community grow.”
Committee member John Zanfardino called the district “a terrific addition to town,” and lauded elements such as the inclusion of bicycle racks and minimal parking.
Phipps noted the good planning that the city has undertaken over the years, which involved a number of stakeholders and public input.
“So then it’s our zoning code’s job to set that plan in motion,” she said. The ordinance creating the district puts things from previous planning documents into practice “and it does so in a a way that’s clear, user friendly,” and with a level of detail “in addressing the feel and look and scale of the new district.”
“I share the committee’s optimism that this is an outstanding thing going forward,” Council President Mark Hollenbaugh said during the following council meeting.
The ordinance passed unanimously.
“I think this is monumental that we passed” the ordinance, said Rowland. “This is something that we’ve wanted for years and years.”