By DENISE GRANT

Staff Writer

Proposed changes and updates to Findlay’s zoning are moving forward.

The City Planning Commission gave its approval to the proposed changes in a meeting held Thursday morning, followed closely by a vote of council’s Planning and Zoning Committee.

The final decision rests with Findlay City Council, who will be asked to approve two separate ordinances to enact the change.

Hancock Regional Planning Commission Director Matt Cordonnier said the changes are being proposed by the commission to address inconsistencies between the existing use of properties and their current zoning classification. Those inconsistencies, Cordonnier had said, frustrate property owners, costing them time and money, and in some instances, limiting utilization of their property.

Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee voted 5-0 to request legislation that will change zoning code language to add a “duplex/triplex” option to small residential lots zoned R-3.

At the committee meeting, Cordonnier explained that the language change will bring most of the city’s duplexes and triplexes, many of which were established predating city zoning, into compliance with the code. Zoning compliance, Cordonnier said, affects the ability to mortgage a property, with banks oftentimes rejecting loans for non-compliance.

The change will bring about 800 of the city’s 1,000 duplexes/triplexes into compliance, he said.

Regional Planning is also asking that an average front yard setback “statement” be added to language for residential lots zoned R-2, R-3 and R-4. The setback statement is meant to establish consistency among city lots. If a city lot is improved, the statement requires front yard setbacks to be consistent with adjoining lots.

Councilman Grant Russel, R-at-Large, chairs the council committee. Other committee members include councilmen: Charles “Bud” Haas Jr., R-1; Dennis Hellmann, R-2; Jim Slough, R-3; and Tom Shindledecker, R-at-Large.

Regional Planning is also seeking an overall update of the city’s zoning map. The proposal updates the zoning of 6,770 parcels within city limits based on their current use and lot size. There are a total of 16,732 zoned parcels in the city. The city’s original zoning map was adopted in 1956 and has had few updates. The outdated map has caused a number of inconsistencies between current zoning, property use and the actual zoning code.

In a split 4-1 vote, the committee instructed city officials to continue to collect public comment on the proposed map update. Letters will be sent to all property owners affected by the zoning update in about two weeks. Cordonnier said the letters will be “property specific,” and will outline current and proposed zoning, and explain why a change of zoning is merited. Property owners can opt out, if they oppose the change.

The committee also asked that at least one public hearing be held on the map changes, and asked that city officials report back to the committee on the public’s reaction to the map update.

Shindledecker voted against fielding the map update, saying it was too big of a response to some minor problems.

A draft proposal of updates to Findlay’s zoning map, along with a searchable database, is available on the city’s website at www.findlayohio.com.

Residents can enter an address into the online database to check the zoning. The database provides a side-by-side comparison of current and proposed zoning.

More information about the proposed changes is also available by contacting the Hancock Regional Planning Commission by calling 419-424-7094 or Cordonnier via email at mcordonnier@findlayohio.com.

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