Council to consider update of code

By David Skolnick


City council will consider legislation Wednesday to hire a consultant for up to $250,000 to create a new zoning code for Youngstown.

The money to do the work comes from a $200,000 Ohio Housing Finance Agency grant and $50,000 from the city’s federal Community Development Block Grant.

The company hired would “take the existing code and give us a totally new one,” said Bill D’Avignon, the city’s community development agency director.

The city’s current zoning code was written about 40 years ago, he said.

Council’s legislation to be considered Wednesday would allow the board of control to hire a company for the work.

The city received proposals from 10 firms. City officials liked four of the companies and are currently negotiating with Clarion Associates, D’Avignon said. Clarion is a land-use and real-estate consulting firm, with seven offices nationwide, including one in Cincinnati.

The city wants to hire a firm in the next few weeks, D’Avignon said.

It would take about 12 to 18 months for the new code to be written because the company hired would have several meetings to receive input from the public on the plan, he said.

The zoning code would complement the city’s Youngstown 2010 land redevelopment plan adopted six years ago, he said.

“We need [a zoning code] that is liberal in the reuse of land,” D’Avignon said. “We want one that gives flexibility for mixed-use and agriculture in abandoned or emptied-out areas of the city. Everything is going to be revamped.”

Also Wednesday, council will consider giving the board of control the power to waive 65 percent of building, sewer, water and zoning permit fees for the construction of V&M Star’s $650 million expansion project near its current Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard location.

The savings won’t be known by the city until the company seeks the permits, but the city finance director said the amount should be in the range of $400,000.

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