Mt. Lookout Community -
In response to concerns expressed by our community, the City Planning Commission and City Council enacted rules earlier this summer that provide temporary, additional review for all demolition and subdivision (lot split) applications in Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout. At the same time, a Subdivision and Zoning Working Group was established to develop a permanent solution to ensure that future development is contextual ("fits") within our community. When City Council enacted the Interim Development Control (IDC), which required review of demolitions, some members of Council were explicit that they did not intend to extend the IDC beyond its initial 90 days, which concludes on Sept. 6. As a result, the Working Group has been working feverishly over the last two months to develop a solution within the timeframe we were allotted.
That solution will come in two parts:
- Replacement of the City's Subdivision Regulations
- Creation of a new chapter in the City's zoning code to allow Neighborhood Conservation Districts
The subdivision regulations are what controls changes to property lines - either the splitting of lots or the transfer of portion of one lot to a neighboring lot. These regulations are enacted and enforced solely by the City Planning Commission. The existing subdivision regulations needed to be modernized to match existing city processes and to better define the subdivision process. The Working Group has developed a good draft of these regulations. However, because these new regulations will be enacted city-wide and will affect many city processes across multiple departments, the City needs a little more time - likely until the end of the year - to finalize them.
The City Planning Commission's temporarily suspension of the subdivision regulations for Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout will expire on August 25. Therefore, at the next City Planning Commission meeting - August 17 at 9 a.m., 805 Central Avenue - the City Planning Commission must vote to extend the suspension of the regulations. If they do not, the lot split criteria will return to the previous state.
CALL TO ACTION #1 -
Our community needs to show its support to the City Planning Commission to extend the suspension of the subdivision regulations until the Working Group and the City have the new regulations in place. Community members can submit their opinions by sending an email to Jared Ellis, Department of City Planning, at Jared.Ellis@cincinnati-oh.gov no later than Wednesday, August 15. Comments can also be shared at the August 17 meeting.
Neighborhood Conservation Districts
Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) are an "overlay district" within the zoning code.
Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) are planning tools commonly used to preserve distinct neighborhood characteristics. NCDs can be tailored to fit the needs and wants of specific communities. They are similar in concept to Historic Districts, but are less rigid and offer more flexibility in terms of restrictions to be applied. More detailed information is available on the
Communities or portions of communities would have to receive City Planning Commission and City Council approval to create an NCD. There are two parts to this process:
- Passage of enabling legislation to allow NCDs
- Enactment of an NCD for a specific neighborhood (e.g., Mt. Lookout)
The enabling legislation is close to being complete. It is largely a framework, with limited detail about the "rules" that will go into place within an NCD. Probably the most important item that will be contained within enabling legislation regards notification when something doesn't meet development standards. One of the things the MLCC Board has heard loud and clear is that neighbors need more time than is currently provided in the typical zoning variance request process. Therefore, the Board is advocating for notice to be sent to all property owners within 200 feet (double the current standard) a minimum of four weeks prior to the variance hearing (more than double the current standard). We believe both of these are reasonable and would, in most cases, add no more than one week to the approval process and cost the developer no more than an additional $50 in application fee.
CALL TO ACTION #2
- There is a three-step process for passage of the NCD enabling legislation: City Planning Commission recommendation, passage by City Council's Economic Development and Zoning Committee, and passage by City Council. The City Planning Commission will vote on this at its August 17th meeting. The community needs to show its support of the enabling legislation and the notification requirements being requested. Opinions and comments can be sent via email to Jared Ellis, Department of City Planning, at Jared.Ellis@cincinnati-oh.gov no later than Wednesday, August 15. Community members may also share comments at the August 17 meeting.
The other piece of the NCD is Mt. Lookout's specific development standards. These are the specific rules that will guide demolition and redevelopment in our community. We are working very closely with City Staff to finalize these and will share them as soon as we can, but they will generally provide guidance on the following:
- Building size (width, depth, and height)
- Location of new buildings on a cleared property
We are also hoping to include controls on when front-facing garages are appropriate.
Once enacted, all proposals for development will be reviewed by the City. If they meet the base zoning and NCD development standards (size, location, etc.), City staff will approve them administratively. If they do not meet standards (i.e., the developer is proposing something that may not "fit"), notice will be sent to nearby property owners and a hearing will be scheduled.
In the long term, additional standards can be added into Mt. Lookout's NCD (such as the pitch of roofs, the location and size of accessory buildings, etc.) but those will require more study and cannot be addressed in the time we have been given. The MLCC Board believes that the initial standards being proposed at this time will address the majority of community concerns and that our plan can be fine-tuned over time as needed.
CALL TO ACTION #3 -The same three-step process described above - passage by Planning Commission, Council subcommittee, and City Council - is required to enact the Mt. Lookout NCD. The community must strongly support the proposed NCD at each stage of the process. If this is not approved at all three steps, building demolition will return to being permitted with no consideration of what is to be built in its place. During this first stage, community members can submit their opinions and comments by email to Jared Ellis, Department of City Planning, at Jared.Ellis@cincinnati-oh.gov no later than Wednesday, August 15. Community members may also share comments at the August 17 meeting.
While the MLCC Board would have certainly liked more time to review the proposals with the community, the time provided doesn't allow for that. We believe strongly, however, that the measures developed are effective and reasonable. They balance the concerns of community members that don't want to be surprised by developments that clearly do not "fit" into our neighborhoods, the desire of property owners to not be unnecessarily constrained with what they can do with their property, and the needs of developers to have clear standards and a predictable process.
The following three dates are critical:
- August 17 - City Planning Commission:
- Extension of the subdivision regulation suspension
- Recommendation of the NCD enabling legislation to City Council
- Recommendation of the Mt. Lookout NCD to City Council
- Sept 5 - Economic Development and Zoning Committee
- Passage of NCD enabling legislation
- Passage of the Mt. Lookout NCD
- Sept 6 - City Council
- Passage of NCD enabling legislation
- Passage of the Mt. Lookout NCD
The NCD legislation and Mt. Lookout's
NCD documents are currently being completed. We will share these with you as soon as we have them, likely in the next couple of days.
Thank you for your interest and participation in this important process.
- MLCC Board