After many months of consideration, Upper Arlington's city council approved several amendments to the city's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) during the council's first meeting back from summer break on Aug. 22.

After many months of consideration, Upper Arlington's city council approved several amendments to the city's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) during the council's first meeting back from summer break on Aug. 22.

The amendments reclassify the city's definition of building height for commercial structures. The amended UDO now considers commercial building height to be the distance from the average grade around the foundation to the top of a "parapet wall, top of cornice or soffit, or top of eave fascia for sloped or mansard-style roofs, whichever is higher."

The change defining the top of a commercial building comes from several meetings held earlier this year by the Board of Zoning and Planning and economic development subcommittee. The increase is meant to accommodate rooftop mechanicals and taller floors, according to city staff presentations.

Much of the brief meeting was taken up with discussion of whether portions of the amendments dealing with the Kingsdale West area should be sent back to BZAP for further review.

While the amendment raises the maximum height of a proposed building in Kingsdale West from 36 to 48 feet, council member Erik Yassenoff said he believes that is too high for that area.

"That's directly across the street from single-family homes that are roughly 20 feet (tall)," Yassenoff said. "I would like to at least give (BZAP) the option to review that."

Senior planner Chad Gibson described Kingsdale West as the area of the city west of Tremont Road, from Fishinger Road on the north to around Zollinger Road at its southern boundary.

Gibson answered council members' questions on the issue, saying that the city's master plan calls for a transition in height from commercial areas to single family homes.

"If an application did come in (next to the homes) that was 48 feet, my guess is that the BZAP would provide some pretty significant resistance to that, as it does not provide that transition that the master plan calls for," Gibson said. "(BZAP) would be able to vote against a potential project, or recommend to the developer that they revise their plan."

"So this gives the flexibility to BZAP to go to 48 feet, but to still use its own judgment on the transition?" council president Frank Ciatola asked.

"That's correct," Gibson said.

Council voted 4-2 against returning the Kingsdale West section of the amendments to BZAP, with council member Wade Steen absent and Yassenoff and Debbie Johnson dissenting.

Council then unanimously adopted the amendments.

"I support the overall package in its entirety," Yassenoff said. "While it's not a perfect plan, it's significantly better than what we currently have, so I'm supporting it on those grounds."

The city's updated commercial development standards can be viewed online at www.uaoh.net.