By Jordyn Grzelewski
The zoning department plans to redevelop two Boardman neighborhoods as part of a broader effort to revitalize and stabilize some of the neighborhoods, township Zoning Inspector Sarah Gartland said.
Gartland chose to focus on redeveloping Westward Homes and the North Market Street corridor — neighborhoods she said are in need of extra help because they have high concentrations of tax delinquencies, nuisance complaints, zoning violations and vacancies.
“More than most neighborhoods in Boardman, they need help to stabilize,” Gartland said.
Westward Homes is a neighborhood between Glenwood Avenue and Market Street that includes Salinas, Ranier, Oregon and Sierra Madre trails and has 400 properties. Most of the homes in the neighborhood were built after World War II and are mostly small, affordable, ranch-style houses, Gartland said.
“Of all our single-family-home neighborhoods, this one has the highest concentration of rentals,” she said. “People aren’t buying there.”
Gartland said the zoning department gets a lot of nuisance complaints about properties in this area, and that the area has a high number of tax delinquencies and zoning violations.
“They need some assistance in transitioning into whatever kind of neighborhood they’re becoming,” whether that is a rental-home or single-family-home neighborhood, Gartland said.
Gartland’s office has developed a strategy to deal with the neighborhood, which is to conduct targeted enforcement, acquisition and demolition of properties, as well as to verify the properties that are vacant.
“We would go around once or twice a year to look for zoning violations. Up until this point we’ve always been complaint-driven,” she said of the targeted enforcement.
As for the targeted acquisition, Gartland said this would involve the zoning department’s taking possession of properties that have been foreclosed on and which are not purchased in a sheriff’s sale, and adding them to Boardman’s land bank.
The other neighborhood that is part of the redevelopment plan is the North Market Street corridor, which is the commercial section of Market Street between Ewing Road and East Midlothian Boulevard and which includes 174 properties. This area has a number of small commercial buildings with limited property, many of which are vacant, owe taxes and have zoning-code violations, Gartland said.
Gartland said the strategy for redeveloping this neighborhood is called site-plan review, which involves reviewing and improving upon a number of elements of the property, including green spaces, parking, the appearance of the structure, stormwater management and enclosures around dumpsters.
“We hope to reduce the vacancy by improving upon the property through site-plan review,” she said.
The zoning department began working on this plan in March as part of a comprehensive plan for the township that Gartland plans to present to the board of trustees later this year.
“It lets us focus our efforts to create the most change for the residents of Boardman,” Gartland said of the redevelopment plan. “We thought we needed a plan to focus our efforts. ... When you pick areas and focus efforts and direct resources, you get a lot more bang for your buck.”
Trustee Tom Costello said it is too soon for the board to weigh in on the redevelopment plan since Gartland has yet to formally present it, but that the board supports her efforts.
“We’re anxiously looking forward to her presentation,” he said.
Trustee Larry Moliterno said the plans of the zoning department are part of a broader effort on the part of township officials to plan for Boardman’s future.
“Boardman grew very rapidly, and now I think we’re at a point in the community’s life where we’re looking at the next generation and how we can provide opportunities for people to reinvest. And I think we have to do that neighborhood by neighborhood,” Moliterno said. “We’re really trying to be proactive. We’re trying to make good decisions that will be good for Boardman in the long run.”