Grove City 'essentially rezoning the entire city,' with summer completion planned

'Aggressive' timeline planned, with adoption by July

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Carrie Eve of Miamisburg and Maryn Sivley, 9, of Liberty Township (near Cincinnati) exit the Grove City Town Center's Capital City Cakes on Feb. 24. The city is updating its zoning code for the entire city, including a new SF-4 residential district that was created to capture the character of neighborhoods generally on the perimeter of the Town Center between the Town Center and Hoover Road.

Grove City is heading into the homestretch of completing a rewrite of its zoning code for "the entire city."

The revised document could be presented to City Council for approval by this summer, community-development manager Kim Shields said.

The timeline "is a bit aggressive," Shields said but added she thinks the update could be finalized and ready for adoption by July.

Shields presented council and planning commission members with an update of the zoning-code revision during a Feb. 22 virtual work session held by council's land-use committee.

A public rollout of the revised zoning code is expected to begin in March, she said.

"Getting the public comfortable with the rewrite will be crucial through this process because we're basically doing a total overhaul of the zoning code," Shields said. "We're essentially rezoning the entire city. We want to make sure property owners understand what this means and they have the opportunity to review what we are proposing."

An interactive map will be available that will show every parcel in Grove City, its current zoning and how it would be rezoned under the proposed new code, she said.

Two rounds of public engagement are expected, with meetings held via Webex, Shields said. The first meeting will offer background and information about why the zoning update is being done. The second session will present the final draft code for public comment prior to its submission to council.

Between the two public-engagement sessions, additional work sessions with council and the planning commission will be held to discuss the code in detail, she said.

The current code initially was adopted more than 40 years ago, and the amendments and revisions that have occurred since then have resulted in a "disjointed code," Shields said.

"In order to make any substantive changes, a complete repeal and replacement of the code (is needed) because of the piecemeal amendments over time," she said.

The new code also is intended to improve the document's usability and help improve the city's competitive position for development, Shields said. A revision of the code also should allow the city to implement provisions included in the Grove City 2050 community plan.

The code is organized into four titles.

Title I, which establishes the administrative structure of the code and its underlying processes, first was presented in April 2019 during a council work session, Shields said.

One of the major concerns raised at that time involved the proposal to give the planning commission more approval authority, she said. The proposed new code still would give the commission the approval authority over minor site plans and conditional uses.

Residents still would be able to share their views by participating in planning commission meetings, and council could act to appeal a planning commission decision, law director Stephen Smith said.

More:Grove City's Town Center framework focus shifts, but core goals remain

Planning commission meetings typically are held during the afternoon, making it difficult for many residents to participate, council member Ted Berry said.

When planning commission meetings are held "is something that could be looked at," Smith said.

"We need to make sure the public can participate and can attend at a time that is not convenient just for a developer," council member Roby Schottke said. 

Shields presented an introduction to the proposed revised Title II, the section of the code that establishes development standards for each zoning district.

"The goal is to reduce nonconformities while ensuring the appropriate character of development," she said.

The revised Title II reduces the number of zoning districts from 30 to 17 and includes a new Broadway corridor overlay.

Some new zoning districts are proposed to address build environments and intended character of those districts, Shields said.

This is a view down Broadway at the Grove City Town Center, as shown Feb. 24.

A new SF-4 residential district was created "to capture the character of existing neighborhoods generally on the perimeter of the Town Center between the Town Center and Hoover Road," she said. "The vast majority of those lots do not meet their current zoning district so there would be nonconformity in our current code. This new SF-4 district contains standards that would bring them into conformity with code."

Because some elements of those lots would not be desirable in a new development, the district standards would state that no SF-4 districts could be created after passage of the new code, Shields said.

A proposed new Town Center zoning district would be a form-based code, she said.

"What's unique about the Town Center district form-based code is that it's designed around how a building relates to the public realm so the standards are organized based on the road on which the property or building fronts," Shields said. 

The form-based code fits in with the recently adopted Town Center framework, which puts "a focus on the public realm in setting the proper tone for the Town Center," she said.

The revisions for Title III (additional zoning requirements) and Title IV (land planning and subdivision control) are still under review and will be presented in more detail at future work sessions, Shields said.

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