HUDSON — City officials are poised to begin reviewing proposed changes to the Land Development Code, though residents have expressed concerns that they give developers too much autonomy and allow for too-dense zoning.
The planning commission will host an informational meeting on Monday, Aug. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 27 E. Main St., to review the potential revisions and seek public feedback. The commission will then host a public hearing on Aug. 20 at the same time and in the same location.
Canterbury Drive resident Dr. Hayley Arnold told the commission July 23 that she had questions on how the proposed revisions may "allow a residential developer to increase the density of the zoning district."
"It appears that they could increase it by 125 percent within the increased density bonus," said Arnold. "They have no minimum parcel size requirements in the revised code and they can arrange these small lots together as they wish with no restrictions beyond staying within the basic land use of residential."
While noting a density bonus would have to be approved by the planning commission, Arnold said the proposed revisions "expose the city to legal pressure from national builders and landowners who have rights to best use the property and they could claim they are entitled to the full extent of this plan development language."
Stow Road resident Tom Armbruster said he is against the proposed revisions which "provide for increased density in low-density areas of Hudson through the 125 percent density bonus and proposed removal of the open space conservation subdivision section."
He said the city’s comprehensive plan discusses "protecting the character of low-density, undeveloped areas," and said the plan states converting such areas "into more intense development patterns should be prohibited."
"This perceived need to urbanize low density areas of Hudson does not come from the residents," said Armbruster.
A survey cited by city staff to support the proposed revisions "had only five non-city staff responses and in the five responses to the survey, only one was from a resident," he said.
Armbruster said a petition circulated earlier this year was signed by 900 residents who opposed a proposal by Pulte Homes of Ohio LLC to rezone 92 acres of land on Ravenna Street for a subdivision of more than 100 homes. Pulte later withdrew the proposal.
Canterbury Drive resident Bill Melvin said he is "deeply opposed" to the proposed revisions and called the potential increased density bonus "extremely detrimental to our community."
Melvin said multiple nearby communities implemented similar changes and they now have "out-of-control population growth" and traffic control problems. He said national builders are "gobbling up land, farms, anything they can get, to throw up inexpensive, cheap, poorly built houses."
"It definitely injures the character of Hudson," noted Melvin.
Valerie Lane resident Julie Lindner said she felt some of the possible revisions would mean officials were going to "unzone any vacant land."
"You’re not having any kind of standards," noted Lindner. "You’re just going to say, ‘let’s let the developer bring to us what they want and we’ll approve it if we like it.’"
She said the proposed revisions brings "a huge element of uncertainty into the zoning process."
Lindner said if she wanted to buy a home and there was vacant land next door, she questioned whether a real estate agent could give her a clear answer on what could be built on that parcel. She added she did not see any provisions in the revisions to the LDC to create diversity in housing and added she felt areas close to downtown are best for variety in housing.
Jody Roberts, the city’s communications manager, said the issues raised by the residents "are being discussed, along with other major topics of concern and we will be revising the document in the coming months."
City officials are slated to speak with community groups and host more public hearings to garner more input. Roberts said residents who would like to offer feedback can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents can learn more about the proposed changes to the LDC by visiting the city’s website at www.hudson.oh.us and clicking on an icon titled "LDC Rewrite."
What are the planned LDC revisions?
City Manager Jane Howington says the proposed LDC revisions are intended to make the document more "user-friendly," and allow for a greater variety of housing types.
Under the proposed revisions, Howington said all development requirements for each zoning district are listed in one section. Currently, someone who wants to build a home in a particular zoning district would have to look at five or six different sections to find the relevant requirements.
The changes are designed to increase diversity in housing to provide homes for empty nesters who want to downsize and for young professionals who want to move into the city, according to Howington.
The proposed rewrite of the LDC includes "flexibility in housing" through a special permit or planned development process that would include review, approvals and public hearings by both the planning commission and City Council.
There are two commercial corridor zones that have many lots that are non-conforming and where a developer can’t do much with the land, according to Howington. In the proposed LDC, Howington said the city has taken the uses that are allowed in each zone and combined them into one zone to allow "for redevelopment of some of those under-utilized or non-utilized properties."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.