Commission OKs zoning for animal shelter, parking code amendment

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Sidney Planning Commission approved a zoning plan for the animal shelter annexation and amending chapters of the zoning code regarding front and side yard parking during its Monday meeting. The recommendations will be sent to Sidney City Council for its approval.

A public hearing was held to consider establishing a community business district for the entire animal shelter annexation area. It involves 6.88 acres of land on the north side of Gearhart Road and to the east of Children’s Home Road, which is currently crop farm land. The Shelby County Commissioners petitioned for the annexation to make the property available for development with city utilities and services for a future kennel.

Barbara Dulworth, community development director, said the city’s land use plan of this area deems the appropriate uses to include public parks or open spaces, public and semi-public uses, and single family residences. The land use plan, she said, recommends development types that preserve 25 percent or more of the site in common natural and open spaces, which the long-term plan for the development of this property includes. Dulworth said the suggested zoning plan is in conformance with the city’s comprehensive plan.

Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann was the only person in attendance who spoke at the hearing.

Ehemann thanked the commission’s consideration of the district. She pointed out that part of the wooded area that is not being annexed is part of a shooting range for the Sheriff’s Office, and the plans for the undeveloped portion of the 6 acres are for a scenic park-like area with walking trails.

Commission member Tom Ehler wanted to know if the property to the east will be annexed to the city. Dulworth said the land to the east will still be farmed and will not be in the city.

Commission member Merrill Asher asked how far back the shelter will be located and the number of parking spots that will be out front. Dulworth said it will be fairly close to the road and slightly to the east. Ehemann said parking will be on the east side of the building.

In other business, Dulworth told the commission, based upon citizen complaints, she was proposing amendments to the zoning code for parking in front and side yards. The changes would require parking in the front and size yards of houses to meet certain standards and would prohibit parking on an established lawn in the front or side yard.

She said there’s been a “marked increase recently” in the number of residences where vehicles regularly park in the grass area of the front and side yards. This practice, she said, causes erosion control issues, is unsightly, and is a blighting influence for a neighborhood.

City staff researched other Ohio communities’ regulations, after a request by City Council, and proposed the following changes with two chapters of the code:

• Update the definition of a driveway in chapter 1103 to mean an improved area, constructed of asphalt, concrete, gravel, brick, pervious-type pavers, or similar materials, used as a means of ingress and egress.

• Clarify off-street parking in chapter 1141 to: No person shall park or leave unattended, or cause to leave parked or unattended, a vehicle, motorcycle, boat, recreational vehicle or similar device, wholly or partially within a front yard or side yard of any residential property, regardless of type, unless such vehicle, motorcycle, boat, recreational vehicle or similar device is wholly within a driveway or parking space or lots.

Commission member David Gross asked for Dulworth to further clarify “similar device” to include trailer.

• Sections (a) and (b) of chapter 1141 on surfacing, will change to:

(a) Within the O, B, and I districts, all open off-street parking and loading facilities and vehicular use areas, shall be graded and provided with a paved surface, and shall comply with city engineering standards.

(b) Within the N, S and R Districts, all driveway, parking spaces, and parking lots, wholly or partially within a front yard or side yard shall be constructed of concrete, asphalt, gravel or permeable type pavers and shall be maintained free of excessive weeds and grass intrusion. Within the N, S, and R Districts, no parking surface shall cover more than 35 percent of the front yard. Parking on an established lawn is prohibited.

Ehler asked who would enforce the changes. Dulworth informed him that the city enforcement code officer is responsible for keeping up violations. After some other brief conversation about other types of parking situations around town, the commission resolved to recommend for council to approve the changes.

Commission member Patricia Miller was absent and was excused by the board.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.