Bowling Green Planning Commission members on Wednesday approved the city’s plans to rezone what is set to become the site of a new municipal administration building.

The commission unanimously recommended to council a rezoning request for city-owned properties at 304 N. Church St., 316 N. Church St. and 305 N. Main St., which include the current municipal building, a rental home and the former Wood County Senior Center/Wood County Committee on Aging.

The properties are currently zoned as a mix of B-3 Central Business District, I-1 Industrial and S-3 Planned Institutional and the city is seeking a new zoning of B-3 Central Business District for the properties, which amount to approximately 1.41 acres.

Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, in the zoning change application, said that the proposed use of the properties would be for “a new municipal building, with public parking, employee parking and additional green space.”

Describing the rationale for the zoning change, Tretter wrote that “since these properties are all under the same city ownership and a critical component of downtown Bowling Green, it makes sense to have them all zoned the same as B-3 Central Business District zoning. This also allows for the same type of development character as surrounding downtown buildings and with no minimum setback requirements and no minimum parking requirements. This is a walkable area, with the form and character to align with the city’s future land use plan … and the Community Action Plan. Lastly, the city has been clear that keeping the municipal building located downtown is essential, which is fitting to also have the CBD zoning.”

Answering a question from the commission on Wednesday about the footprint of the proposed new building, Tretter said that currently the approximate square footage would be about 31,000 square feet – nearly double the current facility’s size of approximately 17,000 square feet.

The figure was met with positive comments from some members of the commission.

“We are still in development of those plans,” Tretter said of the building. “We do plan to roll them out publicly. We have a designer under contract that was authorized by the city council” who is working on the designs for the building.

She said they want to balance the current needs of the city with “reasonable future needs” and technology.

“I just think it’s great on so many levels,” commission chair Jeff Betts said, “but it also makes so much sense with the Central Business District Zoning and the fact that it’s going to stay right here in the center of that activity.”

The rezoning will now go before council for approval.

In other business, the commission unanimously recommended to council a proposed annexation from Plain Township of approximately 18.51 acres off South Wintergarden Road. This annexation was due to the city of Bowling Green acquiring the vast majority of the property in order to expand Wintergarden/St. John’s Woods Nature Preserve.

“As someone who walks out there a lot, that just makes sense, really,” commission member Judy Ennis said.

The commission also recommended interim zoning of R-C Recreational-Conservation for the property. A nearby narrow parcel of land owned by Carlene Creps, which was included in the annexation, was recommended as R-2 Single Family zoning.

The commission also set out for a May 5 public hearing a rezoning request for approximately 2.97 acres on East Wooster Street located between 1616 and 1630 E. Wooster St., from B-2 General Commercial to S-2 Planned Commercial. Bowling Green Lodge LLC is the applicant.

According to a letter from the Findlay-based firm of RCM Architects to Planning Director Heather Sayler, the intent of the owner, Jamal Garmo, for the 3-acre vacant property, is to “develop the parcel as a mixed-use, multi-story building. The first floor is proposed to be multi-tenant between commercial, retails, or office uses, all permitted within current zoning. The upper floors of the proposed building would be apartment-style, residential uses. Residential uses are not currently allowed within Bowling Green’s business zoning classifications. As such, the owner would like to request a change of zoning for the parcel to a zoning classification that would allow the proposed residential uses on the upper floors.”

A five-story building is proposed.