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Planning Commission Postpones Approval of Sustainable Zoning Code

The Cleveland Heights Planning Commission reviewed the changes to the code for more than three hours at its regular meeting Wednesday night and decided not to move forward just yet.

After reviewing the proposed sustainable changes to the Cleveland Heights zoning code for more than three hours Wednesday night, the Cleveland Heights Planning Commission decided not to move forward just yet.

The city anticipated that the amendments to the zoning code, which it has been working on for about two years, at the April 16 City Council meeting.

"Because there were so many things (the planning commissioners) had talked about, they wanted to see the language and have a chance to talk about it again," said Vice Mayor Dennis Wilcox, referring to the suggestions commissioners made to the nearly 200-page code. "So there’s no sense in rushing. They want to take their time and make sure it’s right."

The revised zoning code spells 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 more green 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.

The commission debated when to encourage green practices and when to require them, where you can have farmers markets and what you can sell, parking space requirements and regulations for residential developments and businesses, the practicality of allowing people to put up wind turbines and much more. 

They suggested allowing bees in community gardens, which was previously prohibited in the sustainable code, encouraging residents to use permeable surfaces when expanding driveways instead of stopping it or requiring it, and requiring lateral curb cuts or inlets for better storm water drainage instead of encouraging it in parking areas, among many other edits.

The commission's suggestions on the code will be available online before the next Planning Commission in May, Wilcox said. Look for updates on Cleveland Heights Patch soon.

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