The Bowling Green Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended to city council an ordinance amendment which would create a new zoning district between the downtown and Bowling Green State University.

“I think this is a really good thing,” said commission chair Jeff Betts prior to Wednesday’s unanimous vote on the Gateway Zoning district. “It’s a great model that can be used going forward. … It’s nice that we’re building this template that can then be used in that area” to foster development.

The matter was originally referred to the commission from city council, and it will now return to council for their consideration. The commission on Wednesday held a public hearing on the district.

The proposed Gateway Zoning district, which would be included in a new area of the zoning code – Section 150.49 – would be established to promote the development of a higher intensity urban neighborhood center along East Wooster Street between Manville Avenue/Thurstin avenues and Enterprise Street, serving as a gateway and vibrant connection between Bowling Green State University and Downtown Bowling Green, stated a document from the firm Calfee Zoning outlining the district.

“The BG Gateway District respects existing surrounding development patterns while promoting desired development patterns along this important gateway,” the document stated.

According to the document, the area could include a mixture of storefront retail, professional offices, and dwelling units located in residential buildings and in the upper stories or rear of mixed-use buildings.

The buildings would feature active building facades at or close to the sidewalk; and pedestrian-oriented scale development with sidewalks wide enough for (activity) and regularly-spaced street trees that promote a walkable environment.

Planning Director Heather Sayler noted that Calfee Zoning discussed the district during a joint meeting of the commission and council in February, and the district is a result of recommendations from planning work over recent years including the Community Action Plan and the East Wooster Redevelopment Strategy White Paper.

“This whole package is the product of two-and-a-half years of work, with consultants working with people in town,” and with the commission and council, said Betts. “So in that respect, there are a lot of people that have been consulted with this space and this idea.”

The Gateway District report is available on the city’s website.

Also at the meeting, the commission:

• Elected officers for the next year. Betts will continue as chair, and Judy Ennis will continue as both vice chair and the commission’s representative to the zoning board of appeals.

• Approved a final plat for the Waterside Phase 2 subdivision. The subdivision is located off of Gorrell Road, near the southwest corner of Gorrell Road and North Mitchell Road.

• Heard from Sayler that to date this year the planning department has issued 141 zoning permits, compared to 163 at the same time last year. “I don’t think it’s surprising given the situation we’re in right now,” Sayler said, referring to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

• Heard that the city is likely to begin its much-discussed update of the zoning code this summer. Sayler said they are currently working through the contract with Calfee to begin that project.