By DENISE GRANT
Findlay’s newly established Downtown Design Review Board voted Wednesday to hold the city’s first hearings on possible maintenance violations at two South Main Street buildings.
Owners of the buildings will be notified of the board’s decision by certified mail.
The property owners will be asked to meet with the review board to come up with plans to remedy the poor appearance of their buildings. The board cited peeling paint, rotting wood, missing windows, and stained bricks as violating the new design standards for the downtown district.
Review board administrator Matt Cordonnier, who is director of the Hancock Regional Planning Commission, said the goal is to work with property owners to improve the buildings.
Cordonnier filed the complaints against the property owners himself, saying the two buildings are probably the worst in appearance in the entire downtown district.
There are four others, he said, that the board may want to consider reviewing in the future.
Building owner names and the location of the buildings are being withheld because the board must still decide if a violation of the rules has taken place.
There was a good deal of debate Wednesday as to whether stained bricks or windows covered with plywood should be considered violations under the board’s rules. Members Pat Ball and Josette Brinkman voted against holding hearings on those conditions.
This is only the fourth meeting of the board since it was established by a vote of Findlay City Council in 2017. Board members were appointed by the mayor. The board then determined the parameters of the downtown district and established the guidelines, with council’s approval.
The downtown district stretches from just north of Center Street to Lima Avenue along Findlay’s Main Street, and reaches just past Hurd Avenue to the west and Factory Street to the east.
The new rules apply to current nonresidential properties, mixed-use properties, and residential properties with four or more units.
Under the new downtown zoning, any changes made to a downtown building require a permit and are subject to review by the board.
Minor changes require only administrative approval. Major alterations require approval from the entire board.
The rules set a minimum maintenance requirement for buildings within the district, and require property owners to “remedy” chipped or faded paint; torn, faded or failing awnings; cracked, broken or missing windows; broken or chipped signs; and walls that are chipped, cracked or a safety concern.
Landscaping has to be maintained and kept clear of debris, and vacant lots have to be level, maintained and cleared of debris.
The board has the authority to issue “stop work orders” for violation of the rules. Should work continue after being ordered to stop, property owners are subject to a penalty under the city’s zoning code.
There are also guidelines and standards for buildings within the district, including building grouping and height, recommended or discouraged materials, facades, windows, window and door replacements, storefronts, entrances, awnings, signs, lighting, site improvements, fencing, parking lots, landscaping, mechanical systems and colors.