AURORA – The city’s planning commission is studying several revisions to chapters of the codified ordinances dealing with building and zoning regulations. Members are reviewing the proposed changes and are expected to discuss them at their Oct. 16 meeting.

The changes were introduced at the panel’s Oct. 2 session, when members also granted a riparian setback variance so a driveway culvert and bridge could be built to access a proposed home on Prestige Woods Boulevard.

Changes are being proposed in chapters pertaining to the building code, mixed-use zoning district, permits and fees, property maintenance, rental unit registry and architectural board of review.

A mixed use zoning district change would require that residential density be calculated at 2 ½ units per buildable acre, and not on the overall acreage of the land to be developed.

City officials and residents have questioned the calculation method for previously approved developments – such as Pulte Homes’ proposed project north of Treat Road – noting that the green space set aside causes the density to rise past 2 ½ units on the buildable acreage.

Other proposed revisions are that mixed use district lot sizes and setback requirements would be the same as for the R-4 district, and the ABR would be the governing body for design review for single-family homes.

Under the property maintenance chapter, a change would allow the city to take action to abate a violation, and any cost of that action would be assessed to the property owner’s tax duplicate. A clause calling for accessory structures to be razed if not maintained properly and the debris removed from the property would be eliminated.

Councilman Harold Hatridge said the maintenance chapter is much less intrusive than one proposed several years ago. He added he would like to see the city establish a program to help needy property owners pay for certain repairs that are necessary to keep them compliant with the regulations.

A revision to the rental registry chapter would define "rental" as a residence occupied for 30 or more days. A new rental unit owner would have to pay $25 per unit, up to a total of $1,000, and the permit would have to be renewed every three years at the same fee.

Building code changes would allow the city to operate under "the most recently adopted" Residential Building Code of Ohio for one-, two- or three-story structures, and would designate the person in charge of building code matters as the "building official" instead of the "building inspector."

In the chapter pertaining to the ABR, guidelines would be added for determining the similarity of residential structures, and a fine for builders who change designs after ABR approvals are granted would be set at $500, plus an additional $1,000 for non-compliance.

Permit and fee guidelines would require that if an inspection of a new or altered structure is not done within six months of obtaining a building permit, the completion deposit would be forfeited and the permit would be invalid. If work on the structure is delayed for more than six months, up to two extensions of six months each could be requested without having to pay for another permit.

As for the Prestige Woods riparian variance, property owners Kyle and Kelly Hersh were granted a 25-foot variance so they can grade a driveway and construct a culvert and bridge leading to their proposed 3,600-square-foot home.

The action was taken after the topography plan was reviewed by the Chagrin River Watershed Partners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to fill a small portion of wetlands and the property owners arranged for wetlands mitigation.

Kelly Hersh told the panel the wetlands are Category 1, and the home could not be built on the property without the variance. "We are not building the home in or near the wetlands, just grading to gain access to the home," she said.

Planning panelists posed several questions to Hersh, a couple of people representing her, the city engineer and the planning-zoning-building director about stormwater issues. Engineer Justin Czekaj said a drainage plan was part of the approved development plan when Prestige Woods was started 20 or so years ago.

Councilman John Kudley expressed concerns about how stormwater would affect the neighborhood, and asked the panel to deny the variance. He claimed the lot had been deemed "unbuildable" in the past, but Hersh denied that claim.

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