Zoning code review wraps-up

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The third part of the final draft of the newly revised Sidney Zoning Code was reviewed at the Monday evening Sidney Planning Commission meeting.

City staff has been working with consultant, ZoneCo Inc., to simplify and rewrite the code since November 2019. Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth presented commission members with the first part of the final draft at the July meeting. It was reviewed in three stages, with the last four chapters of the final draft presented Monday.

“This is draft, there will probably still be changes to it. Staff still needs to go over it word by word to make sure we don’t have any errors, incorrect words. We are still receiving feedback from various groups. So this is not the final of what will be presented to Planning Commission and the Sidney City Council, but it is in the final formatting of what will be in as a code,” Dulworth said.

Monday, Dulworth provided proposed changes for generally applicable regulations; nonconformities; administration, procedures, and enforcement; and the glossary at the end of the code.

The proposed changes to generally applicable regulations that apply to all development Dulworth listed are for:

• Fences — two changes from the current code on fences is the maximum height was moved up to 4 feet in front yards, from the current 3.5 feet as the maximum height. Also, fences in front yards may be no more than 50% opaque, which was changed from current code that prohibits “solid” fences.

• Accessory uses/structures — for accessory buildings larger than 1,000 feet, the re-write includes the same conditions/regulations, but the approval is administrative rather through the Zoning Board of Appeals. Also, accessory dwelling units (ADU) are allowed in the traditional neighborhood district only, with only one ADU per property, and the property owner must permanently reside in either the principal or accessory unit.

• Building design standards do not exist in the current zoning code, Dulworth pointed out. She then outlined numerous standards for single-family residential , multi-family residential and courtsquare districts. Dulworth noted a focus group is currently working on creating the standards for the courtsquare district,and those conclusions will inform the updated code.

• Lot and use standards; wireless telecommunications; application and review requirements; and variances.

Nonconformaties will remain mostly the same the current code, with no substantive changes, Dulworth said. It lists the discontinuance of existing nonconforming use, or damage caused by fire, flood, explosion, etc., may require the structure or use to be brought into compliance, she noted.

Dulworth also laid out numerous proposed changes within the chapter on administration, procedures, and enforcement.

At the August Planning Commission meeting, she said city staff is always paying close attention rulings of the US and Ohio Supreme Courts to be in compliance with the law. She said the standards for variances in this updated code were revised to comply with an Ohio Supreme Court decision and explained various changes about variances.

The glossary at the end of the code contains all definitions, which were moved to one location for use definitions, non-use definitions and definitions specific to the flood plain regulations.

Throughout Dulworth’s presentation, commission members pointed out various errors or changes they disagreed with, especially regarding regulations/restrictions on building design. Dulworth said they can look at these issues and noted the zoning code is for the community as a whole. If the community does not want any restrictions laid out in the proposal, she noted, they will be removed from the final code.

At the end of the meeting, Commission board member Aditya Sakhalkar praised and thanked Dulworth for her and her staff’s hard work.

City staff’s goal, Dulworth told commission members, is to get the updated zoning code adopted by the Sidney City Council by Jan. 1, 2022.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.