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Panel expects to begin update of zoning rules by month's end



Published: Thu, August 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The updates are a six- to eight-month process, the service director says.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

CORTLAND -- The city's planning, zoning and building commission will have much of the information it needs by month's end to update the community's zoning and subdivision regulations.

Scott Daffron, commission chairman, said the five-member body has been collecting the data and suggestions since mid-July.

City council passed a resolution at its July 18 meeting asking the commission to update the regulations, because this hasn't been done since the mid-1990s.

Daffron said the commission has been collecting suggestions for the update from its own members, council members and developers.

"There is so much stuff on our table," Daffron said, pointing to a stack of papers in the office of his Daffron's Body Shop on state Route 5.

After the information is collected, a long process remains to complete the work.

After the draft regulations are prepared, the commission will hold public hearings to determine the pros and cons of its proposals. The public will be asked to comment.

The commission will then recommend the changes to council. Lawmakers will also hold hearings before taking action on the recommendations.

Service Director Don Wittman said he believes the total process will take six to eight months to complete.

"There is a lot of information to go through. We don't want to be haphazard," Daffron added.

Looking to an example

In addition to receiving local recommendations, Daffron said the commission will look to Canfield city's code because of the thorough job that community has done.

The commission chairman said the most significant change will be in the subdivision regulations. He explained that public discussion has been lacking from the time a contractor submits preliminary plans to create a housing subdivision to when it's finalized by council.

The process should be opened, Daffron explained, so the service director isn't the only person evaluating such plans.

This became apparent, he said, during severe thunderstorms two years ago that caused flooding, "the second-worst thing that can happen to you next to a fire."

"That has become a concern of people," Daffron said of the flooding. "Some things were put under a microscope" by residents, who question the efficiency of storm-water systems, he added.

Daffron speaks from experience as he pointed to his office floor that was covered by 4 inches of water two years ago.

What goes wrong

Wittman and Daffron said changes in the use of wetlands for development will also receive much attention. As development eliminates wetlands, Daffron explained, more rain runoff goes to other swampy areas and causes flooding.

Wittman said that currently developers can build on wetlands if they have permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

As Wittman views it, the updated regulations would prohibit developers from building on wetlands. Rather, he said, they will have to plan and build around them.

Daffron said he wants to take a realistic approach to updating the regulations.

"You can't put something in that isn't feasible to do," he said.

yovich@vindy.com




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