Council sees rough draft of revised zoning code

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — An overview of a draft of the newly revised Sidney Zoning Code was given to the Sidney City Council at its Monday workshop session.

Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth said the re-write of the zoning code began with an evaluation and calibration to the city of Sidney’s Comprehensive Plan.

City staff has been working with consultant, ZoneCo Inc. to prepare a final draft after the rough draft had been presented to Sidney City Council, the Sidney Planning Commission, the re-write steering committee, and the general public for review and comment. Staff has been working with ZoneCo to simplify and rewrite the code since November 2019.

Staff presented a rough draft of revisions that was “substantially complete” to the Planning Commission over three sessions to get final feedback beginning in July. She will next present the final draft to the Planning Commission on Oct. 18 for their recommendation to City Council. The final draft will then return to City Council for further consideration in November, and her goal is for council to adopt and implement the new code by Jan. 1, 2022.

At Monday’s meeting, Dulworth highlighted proposed changes to districts, off-street parking, landscaping, signs, development standards for neighborhoods, generally applicable regulations, non-conformities, administrative procedures and enforcement of the zoning code, and information on the glossary of terms.

In the proposed plan, Dulworth noted, three district are going away completely, including the non-urban, suburban residential and I-1, light industrial districts. The plan proposes adding a new industry/innovation/manufacturing district.

In the chapter regarding landscaping, among the various changes, Dulworth pointed out trees will be required in all districts; one for each 40-feet-of street frontage.

In signage changes, Dulworth said city staff continues to follow the US Supreme Court rulings so the city of Sidney does not impede on freedom of speech. Several changes were listed deal for electronic/digital signs. She pointed out any on- or off-premises signs/billboards, per the Supreme Court, can be only be regulated for time, location and manner, not content.

Currently, off-street parking regulations are complex and hard to read; Dulworth said this zoning code revision will simplify it. Bicycle parking is required in the courtsquare business district.

Changes for drive-thrus, such as at restaurants, or banks, etc., were reviewed also. The revised code says drive-thrus will be regulated by location. A by-pass lane is required for businesses with a drive-thru, and the number stacking spaces were revised.

Mayor Mike Barhorst expressed his disagreement about the changes to drive-thrus downtown, saying it makes no sense to take an existing building and not allow it to be used in that way any longer. City Manager Mark Cundiff added although he will not be around (due to his retirement in November) by the time the final draft is brought back to council for a vote, he and Barhorst should agree to disagree on this issue. The point of the downtown, Cundiff said, is to get people out of their car and walking. Dulworth said whatever City Council’s consensus is, it be written as such.

The numerous changes to the generally applicable regulations for all developments were for fences, accessory uses/structures, building design standards, lot and use standards, wireless telecommunications, application and review requirements, and variances.

The standards for variances in the updated code, Dulworth said, were revised to comply with an Ohio Supreme Court decision.

Nonconformaties will remain mostly the same the current code, with no substantive changes. Dulworth also laid out numerous proposed changes within the chapter on administration, procedures, and enforcement.

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

Council members thanked Dulworth and her staff for their hard work. Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan noted the zoning code has needed to be updated for many years. She said they need to the time to read through each page, be sure to understand the proposal, compile any questions and then come back to her with their thoughts.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.