By DENISE GRANT
So far, so good for Findlay’s newly established Downtown Design Review Board: property owners are cooperating.
The board met briefly in regular session on Wednesday with very little on its agenda. So far, most improvements to downtown properties are being approved by board administrators and haven’t required board action.
Established by a vote of Findlay City Council in 2017, the board, which has met only a handful of times, has found two properties to be in violation of the new downtown building standards. Both owners have agreed to remedy issues with their buildings.
“The word is starting to get out that we’re around,” said Review Board Administrator Matt Cordonnier, who is also the director of the Hancock Regional Planning Commission.
Property owners are following the rules and seeking permits when required, he said.
“We haven’t had a project start in the review area without a permit for some time now,” Cordonnier told the board Wednesday.
He said property owners are actively seeking out information about the review board and “they’re working to figure out the rules.”
Most of the administrative approvals have been for small changes to building facades like painting and awnings.
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.
Board members are appointed by the mayor.