A four-month study of the River Ridge/Kingsdale West areas of Upper Arlington found that many residents want to protect their neighborhoods from commercial development and maintain housing stocks for people with different size families and levels of income.

The River Ridge/Kingsdale West district is bounded west-to-east by Riverside Drive and Kingsdale/Tremont Road, and by Zollinger and Fishinger roads.

The study included public workshops and online surveys. Some findings from the study were shared with Upper Arlington City Council March 26 by representatives from the city's Planning Division and a consultant firm Planning NEXT.

River Ridge

Sarah Kelly, a senior projects manager with Planning NEXT, said the study found residents want to maintain the residential character of the River Ridge neighborhood in the face of pressure from developers and to assess and enhance infrastructure where needed.

They also are interested in addressing the "issue of houses being built on double lots," she said.

"Under current zoning, it's not difficult on many lots to tear down a single house if you'd want to rebuild two," Kelly said. "(Residents want) to make stricter restrictions in terms of the scale of those houses."

Overall, she said, the study indicated residents want the city to reduce the maximum heights allowed for houses in River Ridge from the current 35 feet and they support allowing existing carports to be enclosed.

Study respondents oppose any plans to make duplexes more prevalent in the neighborhood, but recognize zoning changes should be made to allow for people to age in place.

"Mother-in-law suites and thinking about how we can accommodate families as they evolve over time is something that we thought was really important to be reflected in the recommendations," Kelly said.

Lastly, residents said the city should "showcase renovations" made to homes in the area to encourage similar projects throughout River Ridge.

"There are people taking wonderful care of their homes, particularly mid-century homes that have very particular challenges, and why not show that off to the rest of the city and beyond?" Kelly said.

Kingsdale West

Kelly said residents of Kingsdale West want that area to continue to offer a mix of housing types in line with design characteristics of the neighborhood.

But they also want to make sure commercial uses are limited mostly to Tremont Road.

"The zoning is all the same in the entire Kingsdale West," Kelly said.

In addition, residents want height limits for houses and buildings in the residential portions of Kingsdale West, and ask that the heights get lower the further west you go from Tremont and toward River Ridge.

"We heard loud and clear that people are not in favor of a lot of mix of uses in this area," Kelly said. "They want it to have more of a residential character."

She said the study showed residents want "neighborhood-oriented" commercial uses on Tremont Road.

Residents comment

Several residents who attended Monday's City Council meeting said they agreed with many of the findings and would watch with interest to see how city leaders might proceed.

"There was also a concern that this study was all about increasing the tax revenue in the area," said Judy Hirschfeld. "Hopefully, that's not the case.

"Another concern was, if we build larger houses in the area, then there's going to be less green space, there's going to be less privacy because houses are going to be closer to the lot lines and it will change the neighborhood personality."

River Ridge resident Wal Ozello thanked city officials for conducting the study, saying the area is "under immense development pressure."

"We all talked about wanting to keep the character of River Ridge," he said. "It's an affordable area, it's a beautiful area.

"We also wanted to make sure that we found ways to improve the conditions of the houses. One of the things I learned during the study is that the current regulations ... are too liberal. They don't protect the character of River Ridge."

While Ozello hoped the city would develop "active transportation plans" to Wickliffe Elementary and install sidewalks to Mountview Road, resident Jean Jacko said adequate parking must be provided for smaller homes, condominiums, multifamily rentals and residents with disabilities.

She said she doesn't want to see an influx of more expensive housing.

"I have tremendous concerns about affordability and diversity of income," Jacko said. "I hope it's not all high-end, luxury housing that comes to us, as some of my kind neighbors won't be able to afford to live in our neighborhood any more."

When the study was launched in mid-November, Upper Arlington Planning Officer Chad Gibson said it was designed to examine polices for potential commercial and office construction in Kingsdale West and to develop strategies for preserving and strengthening the residential character of River Ridge.

From here, City Council is expected to review the recommendations and determine the need for any zoning changes or other legislative action.

Council members assured residents that any changes that will be considered will be discussed during open meetings, so that information can be shared and public input can be provided.

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