The two largest suburbs in the Mahoning Valley — Austintown and Boardman — have long prided themselves as welcoming communities for families. In an effort to preserve that reputation, zoning leaders in both have tightened land-use regulations.
As long as the two suburbs do not use new bans on duplex and multiplex housing in single-family housing neighborhoods as tools to promote racial or class segregation — and no evidence suggests that they are — they’re well within their rights to restrict land uses to fit the communities’ needs, wants and reputations.
After all, just zoning restrictions have been in place throughout the world for centuries. They keep similar land uses together and outlaw those that are incompatible. In short, they preserve the designated character of a land tract.
That’s precisely what Austintown and Boardman leaders have in mind in rezoning large tracts of each township as Residential-1 neighborhoods. As Austintown Zoning Inspector Darrell Crivelli put it, “It’s not that we are against duplexes or multiplexes.”
To be sure, both suburbs have large swaths of land designated for and filled with multi- family dwellings. But general concerns about the growth in multi-family housing in neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes are legitimate. Some point to the trend of increased crime at and near multifamily housing. Others fear inattention to property maintenance by absentee landlords. Still others simply want to preserve the continuity and character of the neighborhood.
Regardless of their reasons, property owners and neighborhood associations have the right to maintain compatible and cohesive land uses in their communities. Zoning leaders in Austintown and Boardman have responded responsibly to protect those rights.