Bexley News

City considers one zoning group

Committee aiming to streamline process

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Bexley city officials are considering the possibility of combining the city's Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals into one entity.

A 12-member steering committee that formed in February to explore how to update and streamline the city's zoning code discussed the issue at a Dec. 11 meeting in council chambers.

Creating a unified Board of Zoning and Planning could simplify the zoning and architectural review process for commercial and residential developments, but would require a change to the city's charter, said Jason Sudy, a consultant with Side Street Planning.

Sudy was hired by the city to oversee the steering committee.

"We have to modify our charter to allow that board to be formed, because right now the charter is what gives council the ability to create the Planning Commission," Sudy said.

If the Board of Zoning and Planning were created, city council members would have to decide if city council would hear zoning and planning appeals, or if appeals would be heard in a Franklin County court. Communities such as Upper Arlington and Shaker Heights have opted for their councils to hear appeals, Sudy said.

"We need to pick, and most communities have picked council," he said.

Mayor Ben Kessler, who serves as the city's development director, said a unified Board of Zoning and Planning would serve two primary functions.

"One is dealing with judicial (appeals) and one of them is dealing with architectural review," Kessler said.

Steering committee members agreed to further evaluate and discuss the Board of Zoning and Planning concept before making a final recommendation. Sudy said he expects the steering committee to meet once more in early 2014 before drafting a set of recommendations for Planning Commission and BZA members to review.

The committee would then submit the recommendations to council for a formal vote.

Residents will have opportunities to provide input through public hearings if the process moves forward, Kessler said.

In addition to Kessler and Sudy, the steering committee consists of Matt Lampke, chairman of council's Zoning and Development Committee; Kathy Rose, the city's Building Department manager and zoning officer; Mike Simpson, chairman of the city's Planning Commission; Don Brosius, BZA chairman; and additional residents with experience in development.

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