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Council Approves Sustainable Zoning Code Amendments

Chickens and bees get the green light from Cleveland Heights City Council and the Planning Commission.

Cleveland Heights City Council approved revisions to the zoning code at its meeting Monday to encourage sustainable practices in the city.

The green additions to the zoning code spell out specific rules regarding compost piles, bike racks and parking, chicken coops, community gardens, permeable driveways and parking lots, rain barrels, solar panels, geothermal units, wind turbines, tree removal and replacement and more, encouraging residents and businesses to be sustainable by outlining what they can do and how to get approval for certain projects.

Cleveland Heights officials and consultant Camiros Ltd. have been reviewing the city's zoning code for two years with the goal to implement more sustainable practices.

Residents to share input on the amendments to the code voiced two major concerns — the city’s plans to allow residents to keep up to and the in community gardens.

Chicken coops are now officially permitted in the city as long as the resident gets approval and a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission. And the commission decided to allow beehives in community gardens after receiving more information from Cleveland Heights resident Stan Hockey, who keeps an apiary in his backyard.

Vice Mayor Dennis Wilcox said there will still be provisions — only one beehive per garden, and members of the community garden must approve the beehive. Residents within 300 feet will also have an opportunity to comment, and their opinions will be taken into consideration.  

“This has been a major undertaking … What I believe we have here is a balanced approach,” Wilcox said, adding that sustainability includes environmental, social and economic factors. “We will closely monitor the zoning code. I think we probably will have changes that come up in the future. But the city should lead by example, and this is one of the ways we can lead. And I think we’ll be looking as a city to be more sustainable in the future.”

The City of Cleveland Heights also sent out an email to notify citizens about the zoning code amendments, and highlighted some of the changes.

“The code makes it clear that local food production is important. Edible/vegetable gardens are permitted in any yard of a residence,” the city wrote. “…Community Gardens have a strong foundation in Cleveland Heights and the zoning code reinforces this commitment by conditionally permitting community gardens in all districts of the city. Farmers’ markets also are conditionally permitted in any of our zoning districts in the city and will provide another access to locally grown food for our residents.”

In addition, residents may use clotheslines in their backyards to dry laundry, rain barrels are permitted and there will be parking requirements established for bicycles.

The city will also give prospective businesses incentives for incorporating green practices and spell out requirements for parking lot construction and other aspects of development.

To view the revised zoning code, click here.

Here are other highlights from the May 21 council meeting:

  • Council approved an ordinance to trade in six used police cars to get a $15,000 credit on its .
  • Council declared the property at 3354 Berkeley Ave. a nuisance and will demolish the home. It will cost $10,500 to raze the property.
  • Council approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Consulting Engineering Inc. to conduct a waterline survey. The fees will not exceed $44,000. Councilwoman Bonnie Caplan said the engineers listen to the water systems to determine where there are leaks and fixes them before they become bigger problems.
  • Council approved a $65,000 loan for to help the new business expand in the former Coventry School building. The money comes from the city's Commercial Revolving Loan Fund Program, which helped businesses like and get started in Cleveland Heights, Wilcox said. The federal program replenishes itself as merchants who have borrowed money repay loans and carries certain requirements.
Michelle Simakis (Editor) May 23, 2012 at 03:44 PM
What are your thoughts on the changes to the zoning code? Did anyone take advantage of the DIY rain barrel workshop at the Community Center last night?
Lisa Rainsong May 24, 2012 at 12:10 PM
I'm all in favor of the chickens and the beehives!
amandashaffer May 24, 2012 at 01:09 PM
...and rain barrels and clothes lines. As minor as these changes are they send a message about the kind of community we are.
Fran Mentch May 24, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Is the current construction on Taylor Rd., that proceeded against the wishes of the people who live there, in keeping with this concept of "sustainabililty"?http://clevelandheights.patch.com/blog_posts/bulldozers-on-taylor-children-people-with-visual-impairments-and-homeowners-dont-count

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