After a study to preserve and enhance the residential area known as River Ridge-Kingsdale West, Upper Arlington officials are moving forward with recommendations to implement those plans.

At the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, Planning NEXT consultants were hired by the city to "take a deep dive" into the River Ridge-Kingsdale West residential district.

The city defines the River Ridge-Kingsdale West district as being bound west to east by Riverside Drive and Kingsdale-Tremont Road, and by Zollinger and Fishinger roads.

According to the city's Planning Division, the objective of the study was to ensure the city provided an "appropriate policy framework that supports the district's unique character and fosters the qualities that make it special." Division officials also said the study sought to "preserve and strengthen" the district in line with input from residents.

Since then, a zoning change was implemented to allow carport enclosures within the River Ridge neighborhood without a variance. According to the Planning Division, the first such carport enclosure is under construction on Cranford Road.

"There wasn't a restriction," said Justin Milam, a planning officer for the city. "We found that a significant number of homes do not meet the current side-yard setback requirements, meaning a variance from our zoning board would be needed for any type of project on that side of the property.

"This (new) provision allows the conversion to occur without review by our zoning board, as long as certain conditions are followed, like no footprint expansion, no second story, adjacent screening is provided and the materials are compatible with the existing home."

Also last year, the zoning code was changed to reduce the maximum home height in the River Ridge neighborhood from 35 feet to 28 feet.

That applies to the area the city calls River Ridge Addition, which is generally the residential area bounded by the south side of Fishinger Road, the east side of Sunset Drive, the north side of Zollinger Road and the west side of Somerford Road.

According to information on the city's website, "a pending code change in 2019 would prohibit all uses of properties within the Kingsdale West Planned Mixed-Use District to residential only, except for those fronting Tremont Road."

Last March, Sarah Kelly, a senior projects manager with Planning NEXT, said public feedback during the study of the area found Kingsdale West residents want their neighborhood to offer a mix of housing in line with existing design characteristics. They also wanted, she said, to ensure commercial uses were mostly limited to Tremont Road.

"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."

Later this year, a street-tree survey will be conducted and new sidewalks on Mountview Road are being planned for 2020.

According to the city's website, a new sidewalk also is being planned for Nottingham Road in 2023, and an "active transportation plan for Wickliffe Elementary" also is in the works.

"This would essentially be a 'Safe Routes to Schools' plan that would provide children and parents a more walkable and bikeable means to get to and from school," Milam said.

Code enforcement

In the meantime, the city plans to ramp up code enforcement in River Ridge/Kingsdale West this year.

Milam said that effort won't be limited just to River Ridge-Kingsdale West, but is part of a citywide initiative brought on by plans to hire a new staff member.

"The city's Code Compliance Division has been staffed by only one person for nearly the past decade," Milam said. "During this time, staff has primarily been reactionary to property maintenance issues, forgoing the city's proactive program to focus more on immediate issues.

"The additional staff member will help restart this program not only in the study area, but across the community. Proactive enforcement ensures that buildings and property in UA are well-maintained."

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