The Master Plan of 1992

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Cluster ordinance update

Master Plan meeting on June 7, 2006

FEATURE ARTICLE from The Press, 2-8-06, By Julie A. Short

``A review of the 1992 Master Plan reveals need for 'downtown'

Part 1

AVON -- This is the first in a two-part series of articles dealing with Avon's Master Plan. Next week's article will focus on zoning recommendations and supporting information.

It's been mentioned and referenced at just about every city council for almost a year. The city's 1992 Master Plan has been a cause of great debate since three lawsuits have come before the city. But just what exactly is the "Master Plan?"

Some say it's the guidelines for which all future development should adhere to. Others believe the plan is outdated and no longer reflects the current conditions that exist in the city.

While the Master Plan is currently in the process of being reviewed by members of the city's planning commission, as well as interested residents, some in the community have no idea what the Master Plan is or how it even came to be.

The Press obtained a copy of the plan and has reviewed the 50-plus page document in its entirety. (The public can request its own copy at city hall.) The following information is just a brief synopsis of the plan, along with comments from a member of the planning commission back in the early '90s, whose job it was then to review the plan (See Part II, Feb. 15 [2006]).

The introduction to the plan reads, "The zoning code for the city of Avon shows a long concentrated effort by city officials to control land use development. The present code is constructed from language adopted in 1968, with modifications primarily to strengthen its effectiveness in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991."

The last review of the plan was conducted by Metro I Design Group and took 18 months to complete.

The proposed Land Use Plan and land use recommendations, which follow, are the product of an intense collaboration between the Metro Design Group and the Avon planning commission. Sources for the conclusions reached in this rep ort include a parcel by parcel examination of current uses found within the city, a market and demographic analysis of the city of Avon and surrounding communities, a phone survey of residents conducted in the spring of 1991, an examination of current residential and commercial development trends, as well as pubic hearings and work sessions.

It is the singular intent of the Proposed Land Use Plan to preserve and enhance the many unique and attractive assets of the city, while channeling new development into patterns, which are consistent with expressed community values and serve its long-term economic interests. These values were strongly expressed during several public hearings and a resident phone survey.

Some of the values residents mentioned include the preserving of Avon's small town rural environment, the creation of a central focus and sense of identity through

  • development of a downtown retail and service center,

  • the creation of a roadway system which is logical and promotes desired residential and commercial development patterns,

  • the preservation of small farming and agricultural businesses

    [one of the most insidious dangers of locating a bus garage on the Heritage North Elementary School campus is the lack of room to expand bus parking as Avon's population grows -- the almost inevitable consequence will be the eminent domain seizure of Pickering Hill Farm by the Avon School Board. St Mary of the Woods will find more busses in its front yard.]

  • and the preservation of the city's architectural character as expressed in its historic buildings and century homes.

    With a total land area of just over 13,000 acres and a population density of 0.59 persons per acre (in 1992), Avon is a third again the size of Westlake with only 27 percent of Westlake's population.

    Sufficient land areas exist to absorb considerable new development without drastically impacting the rural character of the city.''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-15-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Zoning recommendations highlight 1992 Master Plan

    Part 2

    AVON -- This is the second in a two-part series of articles dealing with Avon's Master Plan. This week features zoning recommendations, per the 1992 document submitted by Metro I Design Group, as well as supporting information. (The Master Plan is currently under review. The next scheduled meeting is Feb. 22 [2006] at 7:30 p.m. at city hall).

    According to the 1992 Master Plan, the apparent consensus to provide for a future that includes both higher density "neighborhoods" and lower density "Western Reserve" residential/agricultural areas will take time and determination to implement. The official zoning map will be realigned to take this new strategy into account and a new "large-lot" zoning district will be created to provide the city, through the planning commission, the proper control to maintain this variation in density as development pressures mount.

    The Master Plan offers eight zoning recommendations. First, the existing R- 1 zoning district be modified in lot width and lot area to reflect the Western Reserve development concept, and the R-2 zoning district be used to reflect the "neighborhood" development concept. This gives each of these zoning districts a unique, definable character without making the existing code more complex than it needs to be for enforcement purposes.

    Second, that the "R-3" designation be meaningfully distinguished from the "R-4" designation for multiple family dwellings.

    The third recommendation regards C-2 zoning (commercial) and states "the C-2 zoning district requirements be reviewed and amended to give additional standards for local commercial development.

    This work is necessary, particularly in light of existing local commercial development pressure, to establish strong pedestrian access and design controls, such as location of landscape improvements, sidewalk location, parking, control of above ground utility access and prohibiting free-standing signs.

    The objective in this instance is to continue to provide the development focus on local retail uses appropriate in scale to the residential neighborhoods in which they are proposed. Other districts have already been established for the larger scale stores and centers. So long as these uses are provided with a reasonable amount of area within the city, the restrictive nature of local retail controls is defensible.

    Fourth is that family-run agricultural uses be permitted as a home occupation in the Western Reserve portions of the city and that a special use permit be considered in those areas for the more intensive agricultural uses deemed appropriate in a rural environment.

    Metro I Design Group also recommended that a development authority be established by the city to provide the commission and council with a central office, with staff, to review and analyze development proposals for their conformity to code, to advise and assist applicants in meeting city standards, and to provide continuing inspections to assure that minimum conditions and standards are maintained.

    This "authority" could provide a link of accountability to elected officials, their board of commissions, and to the courts in enforcing the controls adopted by the city.

    The sixth recommendation is that the city eliminate any exceptions to its subdivision controls, such as "minor subdivisions," and that any modifications to development standards for Western Reserve areas be placed in the subdivision regulations, rather than in the zoning code.

    Another recommendation asserts that lots in the "neighborhood" development areas, be required by the subdivision regulations to have a fee-simple access to a dedicated street.

    The final recommendation in the plan is that the Planned Unit development ordinances be seen as a tool for development control in every zoning district for which it is applicable, whether residential, commercial or industrial. According to the Metro I Design, these recommendations are a beginning point for the city's consideration.

    In the final analysis, the "worth of any property is measured by value of its use to the owner and to the public, and the care with which uses are established and maintained by owner and public alike is the truest measure of how a property will be valued in the future," the Master Plan concludes.

    Supporting information

    In the winter of 1991, Metro 1 Design group then solicited the help of Avon residents in the form of a phone survey. Approximately 125 residents participated (the total number called is not known). Of those surveyed, nearly 70 p ercent had indicated they had lived in Avon more than 15 years. Eighteen percent reported they were born in Avon, an indication of the city's agricultural base.

    Avon is a city of families. Fifty-four percent of the respondents reported that they were married with children at home. A relatively high portion of the respondents, 31 percent, reported that they were retired.

    Based upon an analysis of the retail establishments in Avon, it is clear that most of the available buying power of Avon residents is spent elsewhere.

    In 1991, there were 108 retail establishments in Avon with a total floor area of 334,000-sq.-ft. Of this square footage, 10 percent was listed as devoted to antiques and crafts, 12 percent to restaurants and bars, 7.5 percent to auto services, less than 7 percent to groceries, and 6 percent to medical and professional offices.

    Only 15 percent of all commercial use could be classified general retail. Ten percent of the retail establishments in Avon were located in former residences, in 1991, which had been converted to retail use. Almost 6 percent of the retail space in Avon was vacant at the time of the survey.

    Survey responses also reflected the poor quality of the retail environment in Avon. Almost 90 percent reported that they would shop more in Avon if there were more places to shop.

    When asked which best describes the reason for living in Avon, 62 percent of respondents answered "small town rural environment." Twelve percent of those polled listed "convenient to work." Only 2 percent listed the school system as their reason for living in Avon.

    Fifteen percent felt that commercial development would "greatly improve" the quality of life in Avon. Forty-six percent said that it would "improve" the quality of life. Twenty-four percent noted that commercial development would "detract" from the quality of life. Seven percent noted commercial development would "greatly detract" from the quality of life.

    In 1991, the population in Avon was 7,337. The median income of residents was $35,047. Median home prices in 1990 were $83,500. The highest home sale price was $296,000. Currently[?], the population in Avon is 13,877, the median income is $66,747 and the median home price is $214,000.

    [On 6-30-05, The U. S. Census Bureau reported on Ohio population changes from 2003 to 2004. Avon picked up 1,048 residents to reach a new total of 14,880. Avon's 7.6 percent growth was third highest among cities (with more than 5,000 residents) statewide, behind only the central Ohio towns of Powell and Pickerington.

    Avon reached a total of 14,880 residents in 2004. To put this into perspective, we should look at the 1992 Avon Master Plan, submitted to Mayor Pearl Olearcik on 7-23-92 by Metro One Design Group Inc. On page 28, Metro One calculates that Avon's 7627 acres of R1 (single family) zoned land will produce a build-out population of 58,333; there will be a total build-out population from all residentialy zoned land of 74,156.

    On page 16, Metro One recommends that 4470 acres of Avon's R1 land be changed to R1WR (R1 Western Reserve) with a minimum lot size of two acres. At build-out, R1 would have 24,144 people; R1WR would have 6884 people; and there would be a total build-out population from all residentialy zoned land of 44,754.

    No R1 land has been given mandatory R1WR zoning, although R1WR is a rarely used voluntary option. Thus Avon's build-out population, without a massive rezoning of SR 83 and Detroit Rd. to R3 (multi-family), will be about 74,000, according to Metro One. Mayor James Smith has stated that Avon's buildout population will be about 40,000 based on current ordinances; but no calculations have been presented to support this claim.

    Avon has an area of 20.9 square miles. Parma has an area of 20.8 square miles and a 2004 population of 87,000.]

    Former mayor and former councilman, Tom Wearsch, served on the planning commission in the early '90s when the plan was last reviewed. He still attends council meetings and is also in attendance during the current review discussions.

    "As I look back at the discussions, we didn't feel at the time that Avon needed to be a regional retail center," Wearsch said. "People aren't attracted to Avon for the shopping. My concern is that we've got over 300 to 400 acres of land that is already zoned commercial. We need to use it."

    Wearsch has been outspoken regarding the recent rezoning requests made by developers in the area of SR 83 and Detroit Road.

    "The Master Plan was a guide to try to encourage development in the French Creek District," he said. "Another big topic back then was that SR 83 and 254 was the 'gateway' to the community. This is your first vision of Avon. We wanted to make that decent. Much of it is already zoned commercial so we tried to make the best of the situation. The Master Plan is a guide to when there is a rezoning request, the city has a point of reference."''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 3-1-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Background data serves as foundation for Master Plan

    AVON -- Before you can go forward, you must go back. That was the theme Feb. 22 during the third of many meetings regarding a thorough review of Avon's Master Plan.

    But first, Mark Majewski, professional planner hired by the city to review the plan, attempted to address a number of misconceptions with regards to community planning and zoning. "Community planning evaluates conditions and trends," Majewski said. "It identifies community objectives and lays out the future. It supports the zoning ordinances and may recommend zoning changes."

    On the subject of zoning ordinances, Majewski explained that it is the legislation which creates zoning. "Ohio law does not require cities to have a master plan or land use plan," Majewski said. "But courts are more likely to sustain local zoning when supported by a master plan. Avon's 1992 Master Plan is a hybrid showing recommended zoning districts and land use."

    (The Press recently featured a two part series outlining the 1992 Master Plan (Feb. 8 and Feb. 15 editions). Majewski then proceeded to provide the handful of residents in attendance with a number of interesting statistics generated by the U.S. Census Bureau to serve as background data.

    "People need to understand what's been going on in Avon," Majewski said. "You need to understand the environment you moved into. Much of the recent population [growth] has been due to in-migration. Fifty-three percent of Avon residents had lived in the same house five years before (in 1995). Twenty-one percent had lived in a different house in Lorain County (which could have been in Avon or in another Lorain County community) and 26 percent had lived outside Lorain County.

    This means that, at the time of the last census, at least 26 percent-and perhaps as much as 47 percent-of the population has recently moved to Avon. The number of housing units in Avon has increased over the years. The total number of building permits for new housing units from 2000 through 2005 is 2,229 units. These new units represent an increase of 52 percent over the units counted in the 2000 Census.

    Majewski's data report also provides a range of three population scenarios (or very preliminary projections) of future housing and population. "The 1992 Master Plan calculated a potential build-out under the zoning current at that time to be 74,156 persons in 24,044 housing units," Majewski said.

    "Based on the [Western Reserve] zoning proposed in the Plan, a lower build-out was calculated at 44,754 persons in 14,498 units. These calculations assumed an average number of persons per household of 3.08. The planners did not-and probably could not have-foreseen the rapid housing growth, which occurred in Avon in the 1990s and continues today. They did not attempt to project a rate of growth or an approximate date of build-out."

    The discussion later shifted to the seven community values as outlined in the 1992 Master Plan and whether those values are still relevant today. "We have continued to support them," Avon Historical Society President Taylor J. Smith said. "The city voted to establish a Landmarks Preservation Commission. Having historic buildings is good and we've created that pattern along Detroit Road."

    Architect Paul Burik (a member of planning commission during the 1992 Master Plan review) explained that the French Creek District was designed to create a central core for Avon. "The district consciously stayed away from being a true historic district because it was too restrictive," Burik said. "We wanted to create a district that was pedestrian-friendly and architecturally unified. We also need to create a new set of roads." ...

    Many residents agreed that old and new commercial can co-exist in Avon. "Avon is one of the last western cities that still has antiques stores," David Maxwell, of Willow Creek said. "We've got to create general parking areas to make the French Creek District more accessible."

    The next Master Plan review meeting is scheduled for March 22 [2006] from 7-9 p.m. at city hall. Topics include existing and planned infrastructure (roads, water system and sanitary sewers), and land use and development patterns.''

    [A public hearing is scheduled for 6:40 pm at City Hall on 3-22-06 where citizens will be able to speak on the Romes and Schafer - Gasmellia rezonings. See Judge Edward Zaleski rules against Avon.]

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-25-06, By Julie A. Short

    [Qualifications of Mark Majewski, President of Northstar Planning & Design]

    ``AVON -- City officials have already begun taking steps to review the 1992 Master Plan. A series of meetings are scheduled over the next six months to review the plan, as well as issues relating to cluster zoning.

    To guide them through the process, city council voted 7-0 on Jan. 23 [2006] to enter into a contract with Cleveland Heights-based Northstar Planning & Design. The company's president, Mark Majewski, has already assisted the city with regards to offering analysis on the City Center project (Greg Romes, Lake Pointe Construction). Council voted down Romes' rezoning request for land on the southeast corner of Detroit Road and SR 83 last month [12-12-05].

    Majewski submitted a proposal to Avon Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza on Jan. 16, outlining the services he proposes, as well as costs associated with each task. Majewski proposes compiling a background study report for the Master Plan update, performing a cluster evaluation and drafting an ordinance for cluster residential development, and reviewing the zoning map (and existing plan) to identify zoning issue areas, recommendations for land use and zoning amendments in the SR 83/Detroit Road area.

    The cost for Northstar's services will run the city approximately $21,000 for all tasks, as proposed, plus an additional $360 per evening meeting attended. Daytime meetings with the administration for the purposes of the tasks are included in the lump sum fee ...

    Council President Clinton Pelfrey questioned if other firms had been looked at to submit a proposal or hire. According to Gasior, the pool of planners "was thinned out." One of those unavailable planners is well-known Northeast Ohio planner and Cleveland State University professor, Alan Weinstein, who is currently working for the Romes team ...

    Regarding the cluster ordinance, Majewski proposes a cluster evaluation beginning with the previous ordinances and the developments/plats established under those conditions. The city map and aerials will be reviewed to identify properties which may be suitable for future cluster development in terms of locations, frontages, environmental features, and other factors.

    On the subject of land use and zoning, Majewski believes it is "essential that the remainder of the zoning map (and land use plan) also be reviewed to identify other locations which may warrant adjustments."

    Northstar will prepare alternative land use and zoning plans for each of the areas as selected by the city, the report states. These alternative plans will be reviewed with city officials and amended as appropriate for inclusion in the Master Plan update and zoning map.

    Per the proposal, at a minimum, the following are anticipated to be completed within the next five months: background study (first report), cluster ordinance (all tasks) and the zoning/land use review (review and preliminary report; recommendation for SR 83/Detroit area).

    [A group of residents have formed the Avon Citizens Committee 2006 (ACC) PAC (email accinfo@acc2006.org and have sent letters to all Avon registered voters Included in the letter are the ACC's concerns that the newly elected council will ... overhaul the Master Plan to accommodate further commercial development."]

    Majewski's qualifications include education at the School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning of the University of Cincinnati, membership in the American Institute of Certified Planners since 1982, and practice as a professional planner in various position of increasing responsibility since 1977. He has provided planning consulting services to communities in Northeast Ohio since 1989.''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-25-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Master Plan review begins with cluster ordinance discussion

    AVON -- It wasn't a packed house, but a handful of residents did turn out Jan. 18 [2006] for the first of many discussions involving the city's Master Plan. After Planning Commission members wrapped up their regularly scheduled meeting, Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza outlined the procedures for the discussions and introduced Mark Majewski to the audience. Majewski, a professional planner with Cleveland Heights-based Northstar Planning & Design, will be assisting in the process to "tweak" the plan, last updated in 1992 ...

    According to Majewski, the public process will play an important role in reviewing the Master Plan. "Once we pull together all the background data, we'll meet with city council," Majewski said. "There should be public presentations. Maybe a breakdown of the wards so that people have all the same info you've got. People out there thinking about it raise some of the best ideas. We need to ask ourselves if we are hitting the right issues."

    One of Majewski's recommendations includes establishing a new cluster ordinance within the city. Council members repealed the previous cluster ordinance in 2003 ... One of the problems with cluster housing is the larger homes on "postage stamp lots," according to former council president Tom Wearsch, who was on council when the ordinance was repealed ...

    Avon resident Taylor J. Smith would like to see the city consider creating a vehicle access grid to move traffic through town. "Our old country road system is taxed," Smith said. "A new interchange also has to be addressed in the Master Plan ...

  • "Middleton has to be continued to Jaycox, then to Avon Road. This could be paid for by the interchange project. It would create a south marginal road for the interchange.

  • The north marginal road should be Chester and it should be expanded to five lanes. Chester should be connected through to Clemens. Westlake has been making some noise regarding the closing of Avon Road. We have to cooperate with Westlake.

  • Napa Boulevard should also be built now between Detroit and Middleton [Avon Road] to get on the interchange."

    Smith would also like to see the Master Plan accurately calculate the city's estimated population at full build-out. He would like the city to consider minimum lot sizes.

    Many residents in attendance raised questions regarding access to public documents, i.e. planning and zoning codes. Information is available on the city's web site, www.cityofavon.com. Click on the "city documents" link and then "zoning board."

    Residents would also like explanation of zoning classifications such as C-1 and C-2, as well as residential zoning ...''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 2-1-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Clustering takes center stage during Master Plan review

    AVON -- It could become a case of so much to do in so little time.

    The city of Avon is attempting to review its Master Plan and make any necessary "tweaks" to the document, last updated in 1992. A group of concerned citizens, members of council and planning commission gathered at city hall on Jan. 25 for the second of many meetings to begin outlining a strategy.

    As stated in previous Press articles, Master Plan review work sessions are scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at city hall. Public input is strongly encouraged.

    Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza started last week's meeting off by passing out copies of the Master Plan, as well as Avon's current zoning map, which is updated two times a year, and zoning classifications.

    "Mark (Majewski) and I went around town and I showed him most of Avon's cluster subdivision," Piazza said. "Centennial Village is a good example how clustering was intended," Piazza said. "If it would have been developed as a traditional subdivision, it would have had seven homes. But because of clustering, we could create a nice small village. We also were able to create one curb cut instead of seven off Detroit Road."

    Several residents in attendance raised questions as to what determines a 'cluster' subdivision.

    "Any lot under 100 x 150 feet is a cluster," Piazza said. Piazza also noted that before the cluster ordinance was repealed in 2003, developers requesting to develop a piece of property had to show how the property could be laid out as either a traditional development or cluster.

    Avon resident Tom Wearsch suggested that a good starting point to the cluster discussion might be explaining the negatives of the concept to the audience.

    "The downside of clustering as I saw it after sitting on the Board of Zoning Appeals is when new homeowners buy an $800,000 or $500,000 house and they want to put a deck on the back and we tell them 'no.' Often times, they don't know what they are getting into when they buy something."

    Most residents in attendance agreed that a balance of cluster, traditional, and Western Reserve [mandatory 2-acre minimum lot size] is needed in the city.

    "What are the trends in property values?" resident Taylor J. Smith asked. "Are some areas going up faster than others? We ought to see what people are valuing. Are some designs more economically sound than others?"

    Ward 3 Councilman and council's representative to the planning commission, Tim Nickum, offered some suggestions for the group to consider.

    "What if we give the planning commission the discretion to allow clusters," he said. "Have the developer present both plans and then decide which is better for the city. Also, a balance of cluster, traditional and/or Western Reserve should be considered. We should decide if green space shall be usable or passive only. We should also look at changes to R-3 (multi-family)."

    After touring Avon's subdivisions, City Planning Consultant Mark Majewski noted that he sees a "disconnect" when driving through some of the cluster subdivisions.

    "I noticed some features that could cause a problem," he said. "In Amberwood, there is a long line of houses close together and it looks pretty tight. The city may want to consider only so many houses in a row and then a break.

    The open space is also behind the houses so when you are going through the neighborhood, the driver doesn't see the open space. Is it more important for the people to see the open space?"

    The planner also suggested varying the setbacks for homes to vary the space between units.

    David Maxwell, of Willow Creek, would like the city to consider safety, as well as aesthetics. His subdivision is bordered by C-4 (general business) and there is concern that if developed, Willow Creek will become a cut through to get to I-90, especially if an interchange is built.

    Several residents in attendance questioned why so much attention has been given to clustering while no outline has been given to the process of evaluating the Master Plan ...''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-10-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``New cluster ordinance discussed as part of Master Plan

    AVON -- City Planner Mark Majewski submitted a working draft on April 26 of a possible new cluster development ordinance involving R-1 and R-2 properties to the city's planning commission.

    "While it will contain many of the same provisions as the R-1/R-2 text, the increased density makes a number of additional or alternate provisions necessary," he said. "Notably, more stringent architectural, site design and maintenance standards."

    Planning commission reviewed the draft publicly for the first time April 26 during its monthly special work session to review the city's 1992 Master Plan. "We've narrowed clustering down to several ideas," Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza said. "Maybe as early as May we can have this in ordinance form. This is the first step in reviewing the Master Plan. We'll be talking about that with regards to step-down zoning -- going from commercial to residential. This (cluster zoning) will help."

    City officials have been grappling for months on drafting a new cluster ordinance that can be defensible in court. The former city council repealed the cluster ordinance two years ago. The city is currently in litigation with a case involving a proposed cluster subdivision. The sticking point in the cluster ordinance is the interpretation of its "purpose statement."

    Majewski's draft states the purpose is to encourage development of planned cluster residential areas, which preserve and create common open spaces, landscaped areas and outdoor recreation areas, which may not be preserved or created in traditional residential subdivisions. To permit flexible design and development of cluster residential areas in a manner compatible with abutting traditional residential developments, and to encourage residential development alternatives which reduce the number of new curb cuts on main street frontages in order to preserve street capacity.

    "If a developer chooses to develop under this legislation, they bear a burden to comply with this legislation," Law Director John Gasior said. "You don't want to put the teeth of your law into the purpose clause. It's what follows the purpose law that puts you in a court room. Don't dwell on the purpose clause. Get to the meat of the ordinance. That's where the real regulation is going to be. The court is always looking for the more specific."

    During the meeting, the handful of residents in attendance discussed with planning commission the benefits to clustering, as well as the design. "People are looking for alternatives in housing," Majewski said. "Some don't want a lot of land. As people become empty-nesters, they don't want to deal with a lot of maintenance."

    One of the reasons for the repeal of previous cluster law was because the former council did not like to see large homes built on small lots. "I'm hearing tonight that you are not objecting to big houses on smaller lots," Piazza said. Former planning commission member Tom Wearsch [suggested that] the city is better off to try to get a bigger home on the property.

    Taylor Jack Smith commented that property values go down when everything looks the same in a development. Suggestions were made to stagger the homes frontages rather than having all the homes line up in a row. An example of this is Bentley Drive in the Bentley Park subdivision.

    Majewski writes in the draft that "variation in setbacks over long street frontages would improve cluster appearance and reduce the impression of 'crowdedness.' This can be accomplished in three ways:

  • Limit the number of dwellings on a street frontage having the same or roughly the same front setback, i.e. require that the setback vary every five-10 houses;

  • create an area of common open space extending to the street, i.e., a green space breaking up the lots, perhaps every 10 lots orso;

  • and an area of common open space located within the street, i.e., creating some variation in the street environment."

    Majewski also noted that side yard setbacks (interior lots) should be a minimum of 7 feet from the side lot line. The rear yard would be a minimum of 25 feet, provided that a deck may be constructed not closer than 15 feet from the rear line and not closer to the side lot line of the dwelling.

    Density issues are also included in the draft ordinance. "At the least, a cluster development should be permitted to have the same density as would be possible in a traditional subdivision of the specific property," the draft ordinance states. "The possible density/unit yield will vary from one property owner to another, depending upon the property configuration and the presence of wetlands, steep slopes, flood plains and other features which may be subdivided but may not contribute to a greater number of units.

    It can be argued that this policy will discourage cluster development. "As an alternative, and perhaps as the minimum incentive to build a cluster development, a standard cluster base density could be established, i.e. a density which is a typical yield for a traditional subdivision."

    "In the prior ordinance, these densities applied to the gross area of the development, including 'undevelopable areas' were set at:

  • R-1, 2.0 dwelling units per acre;

  • R-2, 2.4 dwelling units per acre;

  • and R-3, 10.0 dwelling units per acre."

    A standard density may make more sense applied to only the 'developable' part of the gross area, i.e., excluding wetlands, steep slopes, watercourses, open water, etc. Finally, a modest density bonus could be offered as an incentive for creating one or more features of particular value to the community."

    The next Master Plan meeting is scheduled for May 24 [2006] at 7 pm at city hall.''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 6-1-06, By Mary Davies

    [At the Planning Commission Master Plan meeting on 5-24-06, Law Director John Gasior urged the creation of R5, a high-density "step-down" zoning classification.]

    ``... [Planning Commission] will continue discussing the issue at 7:00 pm Wednesday [6-7-06] and at its regular meeting at 7:30 pm [on 6-21-06] ... Some at the May 24 meeting suggested requiring thicker landscaped buffers between commercial or industrial areas and residential properties.

    Resident Jack Smith said he fears population growth could someday rival Parma, a city Smith said has about the same land area as Avon.

    "A couple of years ago, Parma had about 87,000 people," Smith said. "I'm not sure we need more high-density building classifications." ...''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 5-31-06, By Julie A. Short

    ``Master Plan review stuck

    AVON -- ... Mark Majewski submitted a schedule for review of the Master Plan in February [2006], which included providing background data and growth trends within the city. Review of the cluster zoning began in March and hasn't stopped, much to the dismay of those in attendance at the monthly meetings. During the group's May 24 meeting, the topic was still the focal point after Majewski submitted another working draft of a proposed new cluster ordinance, which included creating a new planned residential district [R5] ...

    "We seem to be stuck on this cluster zoning," resident Reni Miller said. "I feel we are getting off key. We need to get back to the Master Plan discussion. Planning commission member Ann Forthofer agreed stating that she would like to see the discussion move forward.

    A special work session is scheduled for June 7 [2006] where the group hopes to put the finishing touches on an ordinance giving enough time for the issue to be reviewed at planning commission's regular meeting June 21.

    Tom Wearsch reminded the group that the city's imposed moratorium on residential to commercial zoning is set to expire next month. "I will bring it to the attention of council," Law Director John Gasior said. "There should be no problem extending it for another six months or longer."''

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