PZ - May 15th 2014


Planning & Zoning Commission
Workshop Meeting Minutes
May 15, 2014

The Planning and Zoning Commission met in workshop session on Thurs, May 15, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayfield Village Civic Center, Main Conference Room for a meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Chairman ProTem Syracuse presided.

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Present: Mr. Vetus Syracuse (Chairman ProTem), Mr. Bill Marquardt (left 9:15 pm), Mr. Garry Regan (left 9:05 pm), Dr. Sue McGrath, and Mr. Paul Fikaris                                                          

Also Present: Ms. Diane Calta (Law Department), Mr. David Hartt (Planning Director), Mr. Ted Esborn (Economic Development Director), Mr. John Marrelli (Building Commissioner ), and Ms. Deborah Garbo (Secretary)

Absent: Mr. Jim Farmer (Chairman), Mayor Rinker, Mr. Nick Delguyd (Council Alternate), and Mr. Tom Cappello       (Village Engineer)


  1. Zoning Code Amendments
    Review Code Section:
    • Nonconforming Uses and Structures
    • Procedures
  2. Section 1185.14; Signs Permitted in Any District
    (e) Temporary Signs



Chairman ProTem Syracuse called the meeting to order. This is a workshop meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission. There will not be a vote tonight. We have two items on the agenda. Ted & David have been working hard on getting this together for us tonight, so with that, I’ll turn it over to them.

Review of Procedures and Nonconformities

Chapter 1143: Development Plan and Conditional Use Review Procedures
Chapter 1149: Nonconformities

Ted Esborn states, we’ve tried to keep the packet itself as close to the same format as the April packet; cover page, table of contents, existing code and then proposed code.

David Hartt said this is our 2nd round at this level of detail. For reading purposes of review hand-out, the new stuff is the non-bold stuff and the material out of the existing code is the bold. I want to be clear that when we’re talking about things that are ‘New’, it doesn’t say we’re suggesting new procedures. What we’re trying to do is record the procedures that are now being used by the Village operationally but are not recorded in the zoning regulations.

Development Plan and Conditional Use Review Procedures

1143.01 Intent

1143.02 Development Plan Review Required - Expanded

1143.03 Pre-Application Meeting Encouraged - New

1143.04 Development Plan Review Procedures – for Preliminary and Final Plans – Expanded

1143.05 Criteria for Reviewing Preliminary Development Plans - New

1143.06 Criteria for Reviewing Final Development Plan - New

1143.07 Request for Additional Information - New

1143.08 Action by Planning & Zoning Commission – Preliminary and Final – Expanded

1143.09 Development Plans Confirmed by Village Council - New

1143.10 Plan Submission Requirements – Preliminary and Final - Expanded

1143.11 Simultaneous Plat Approval - New

1143.12 Approval by Architectural Review

1143.13 Minor Alterations Approved by Building Commissioner – New

1143.14 Significance of an Approved Plan – Expanded

1143.15 Expiration of Development Approval - Expanded

1143.16 Equivalency Provision – Modified only with Concurrence of P&ZC

1143.17 Approval of Development Plan Requiring Variances - New

1143.18 Similar Use Determinations - New

1143.19 Public Hearing and Notice Requirement for Conditional Uses by Planning Commission - New

Review by David Hartt. When we get into the details, I’ll point out some things that are kind of new, different and why, but those are relatively small in nature.

1143.02 Development Plan Review Required
You have this. We’ve expanded that to get a better sense of when.

1143.03 Pre-Application Meeting Encouraged
I don’t think there’s anything in the code that encourages a Pre-Application meeting although you’re doing it, so we’re calling that new.

1143.04 Development Plan Review Procedures – Preliminary and Final Plans
You have this. We expanded that considerably, recognizing this is not final drafting. Trying to make a clear distinction about what’s required at the Preliminary Plan Stage and what’s required at the Final Stage. We’re allowing people to go to the PC for Preliminary Plan Review with less information, less detail. So at the time you want to be able to influence that plan, they haven’t spent a lot of money. You want to be able to do that before they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars, otherwise it’s hard to get them to bend.

1143.05 Criteria for Reviewing Preliminary Development Plans.
We added some criteria basically the basis for considering and reviewing and deciding on a Preliminary Development Plan.

1143.06 Criteria for Reviewing Final Development Plans
(To be added-essentially incompliance with the preliminary plan and meeting technical compliance; most of which are administrative matters – Building Commissioner, Engineer and police/fire.)

1143.07 Request for Additional Information
You’re doing this now, just giving you the authority to require additional information if you so choose, as long as it’s reasonable. Just making sure the code gives you that authority.

1143.08 Action by Planning & Zoning Commission – Preliminary and Final
We expanded what the actions mean.

1143.09 Development Plans Confirmed by Village Council
(To be added) This is new.

1143.10 Plan Submission Requirements
This is where we’ve expanded the plan submission requirements in making a distinction between the Preliminary and the Final Plan.

1143.11 Simultaneous Plat Approval
You’re practicing it this way, but saying that you can approve a subdivision plat concurrently with a development plan, you did that with Governor’s Village.

1143.12 Approval by Architectural Review Board
(Relationship to Plan Review to be specified) We need to think through how that fits in this process. When, along the way that they go to the A.R.B. In the scheme of the flow of the project review by the Village, do we care when that happens?

1143.13 Minor Alterations Approved by Building Commissioner
I don’t know whether John’s doing this. In some codes, if it’s a minor alteration but would otherwise be subject to development plan review, but so minor in nature it can be reasonably determined that it has no impact on anybody, give the Building Commissioner the authority to make that judgment. Example; A commercial property where somebody wants to put a loading dock at the back of an industrial building and not have anything to do with the circulation of the facility. What we’re codifying here is that anything that changes the footprint of the building or changes the parking and circulation (exterior stuff), is subject to development plan review. There’re certain things that are hard to quantify but I think you know it when you see it. Like pornography, you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it. This is a much bigger deal in bigger communities where you have a lot of things. Where the agendas for the PC are filled and numerous. You might say we have so little going on here, we don’t want to give John the authority to worry about these little things because we don’t have that much on our agenda and won’t take us that much time.

1143.14 Significance of an Approved Plan

1143.15 Expiration of Development Approval
We’ve expanded what is a significant approved plan, how long it’s good, when it expires.

1143.16 Equivalency Provision
I want to skip over this for now or we’ll never get off the subject. You actually have a provision in the code that gives you the authority to deviate from the strict application of the zoning code. I had written this authority to do so before I recalled the existing provision. We’ve got your wording with some modifications.

1143.17 Approval of Development Plan Requiring Variances
(To be added) This is like the A.R.B. Do we care about the procedure?

1143.18 Similar Use Determinations
This is new. This essentially is replacing the broadness of the Special Use authority now. We’re going to change that and list things that are subject to Conditional Uses. We’re going to list all those Conditional Uses and set standards for all those Conditional Uses. We want to be as predictable as possible in these various districts. What is left is the unlisted uses, whether permitted or conditional. If they were to appear, the Planning Commission’s review of those would be limited to making a determination if they are ‘similar to’, not just a broad spectrum of possibilities. That’s the ‘Similar Use Determination’.

1143.19 Public Hearing and Notice Requirement for Conditional Uses by Planning & Zoning Commission
The main difference in the Development Plan Review Procedures that created a Permitted Use and a Conditional Use is adding the requirement that the Planning Commission have a formal Public Hearing for the Conditional Use. The reason is we’re saying these are less predictable than the Permitted Uses and they have more impact. Yes, we’ve put in some conditions to try and manage them, but we owe the world a little more formal notification and review of these before the Planning Commission takes action. Your notification could be like the Board of Appeals with letters or a newspaper notification.

David Hartt completes the broad-brush review. 


1143.04 Development Plan Review Procedures – Preliminary & Final Plans

David Hartt said John, this is one of the things the Village is doing but you want to record it as a code in case somebody complains that the Village doesn’t have the authority to do it. It’s saying that John has the authority to reject the application that doesn’t meet the submission requirements. He’s not making a judgment as to whether it’s acceptable to the Planning Commission, but he’s saying it doesn’t meet the submission requirements. I think this is an important road block for both the applicant and the Village. I find over the years that everybody gets mad if the applicant gets to the PC, and all of a sudden, the Planning Commission says “We can’t review that because it doesn’t meet the submission requirements”.

Mr. Marrelli said our review for completeness has always been subjective because there’s no real checklist of what needs to be provided.

David said now we’re going to have a checklist. We want it spelled out. In spelling out what’s required, we’ve started that list, but we have more to do. On that list, we typically make that an exhaustive list. We don’t make a separate list for a small addition to a manufacturing plant along 271 vs. a new Campus III.

Mr. Marquardt said it states review for completeness within ten (10) days after receiving an application….. Are these 10 working or 10 calendar days?

Mr. Marrelli replied ten (10) business days it should be. The State Code is always 30 days. I don’t think 10 days is going to be enough. Sometimes I have to go to the Law Dept for an opinion. Some things take 2 – 3 weeks to get everything in place where you know where you’re going with it.

David suggests coming back to this.

1143.05 Criteria for Reviewing Preliminary Development Plans

David said I flagged whether the review is consistent with the Master Plan. The Master Plan didn’t necessarily provide a blueprint for all properties in the Village. It was more of a strategic thing in selected areas. I’m concerned whether you want to be overly bound by that.

Chair ProTem Syracuse suggests changing the wording to the Plan is NOT inconsistent with the Master Plan. John agrees.

Mr. Regan notes this section doesn’t say anything about conforming with the zoning.

David Hartt said it’s come to you with the determination by the Building Dept. that it’s either a Permitted Use, Conditionally Permitted Use or a Similar Use determination. This is not for rezoning of land.

Mr. Regan said John, you mentioned going to the Law Dept for an opinion. When somebody comes into your office and applies for something that needs to be reviewed, what’s the application fee?

Mr. Marrelli replied $35 or $50.

Mr. Regan said I would submit that probably doesn’t cover the phone call to Diane.

Mr. Marrelli said it doesn’t. There’s a perception that the tax dollars cover our fees and some of these other ancillary fees are just paper work.

David Hartt asked if the Engineer gets reimbursed for his fees.

Mr. Marrelli replied yes and no. Let’s say we think a project is getting off the ground. It ends up getting 2 or 3 engineer reviews. Applicant decides they’re not going through with it. Sometimes we don’t get reimbursed for that. Our study time gets absorbed.

Mr. Regan said when somebody comes in with an idea and you have to pick up the phone and call Tom or Diane, all of a sudden the Village gets a bill for $300 for an idea.

 Mr. Marrelli said correct. We have to entertain every person that walks through the door and fills out an application whether it’s wacky or not.

Mr. Regan said once we’ve been given your approval then we’ve taken it on as our project. Before that, it’s on you.

Mr. Marrelli knows of other cities that require $1,000 deposit to fill out an application and get the ball rolling. That might take some people out of the ball game. If they’re not serious then that’s o.k. Garry’s o.k. with that.

 Mr. Marrelli said then we can use that against Engineering and Law Dept reviews.

Mr. Regan said if somebody has a great idea, put your money up.

David Hartt asked, is that $35 or $50 application fee the same amount regardless of the acreage, which means Preformed came in and paid $35 / $50 for all the reviews?

Mr. Marrelli said no. The Engineering review gets billed through us back to them. But anything I do with the Engineer in preparing for reports or any field inspections I have to take him out on, we pay for that.

Mr. Regan apologizes. I don’t know how it works. Diane, do you bill the Village?

Ms. Calta said we do.

Mr. Regan said I know how these lawyers work, as soon as that phone gets picked up, that clock’s on. Let the guy pay for it.

Ms. Calta said we’ve had those situations. The ones that stick out of my mind are the ones we’ve had to say it’s not even an option for you. I don’t know if that’s the one that’s conducive to asking them to start paying.

Mr. Marrelli asked, how about when you have to write a Development Agreement for somebody? That’s hours.

Ms. Calta replied sometimes we get reimbursed for those, sometimes not. We’ve had situations where we’ve done Development Agreements and they’ve paid all the legal fees.

David Hartt suggesting we keep all fees out of the zoning code. So every time you change them, you don’t have to amend the code. We can refer to the Fee Schedule here.

Mr. Regan said people might be able to sell it to us, but they’re going to have to pay through the process. Some realistic dollar amount.

Mr. Marrelli said we have some landlords that are so willing to take anybody that they’ll say; apply, it’s only $50. They have nothing to lose. It’s worth taking a shot.

1143.08 Action by Planning & Zoning Commission – Preliminary and Final

David said when we’re dealing with Administrative procedures, I think it’s important that you have a time limit in which the city has to act. Otherwise, you’re not giving proper due process and you can sit on it for years as a way of killing it. Administrative process, I’m not talking about a zoning process. So, what happens if you miss that timeframe? The old codes traditionally said if you miss it, then the plan we’ve submitted shall be deemed approved. That’s a dangerous predicament for the Village to get into. In all the codes we’ve written in the last 20 years, were saying if you don’t act within that Administrative time period, the applicant at their discretion may claim that the application has been denied. All it does is gives them the authority if they want to pursue it to go to court. I’ve never see anybody use it because there’s usually extensions granted if you don’t make the timeframe. You want to make sure if you have a glitch in the calendar, people are sick or traveling and you can’t get the quorum, and you’ve gone 80% of the way to get a good revised development plan (I’m thinking of Deacon’s), and all of a sudden just before the Administrative deadline, you can’t get a quorum, and the code says if you haven’t acted within that timeframe, our plan is deemed approved. Well, which plan is deemed approved? The one that was originally submitted or the one that’s 80% of the way there? For another week or two, nobody’s going to fight you if you say it’s been disapproved, unless we agree to extend it. That’s the safer way of doing it.

Mr. Marquardt asked, why put it in there at all? It doesn’t protect the Village from anything.

David Hartt said it gives everybody some predictability about how long you have.

Mr. Marquardt said but it doesn’t do anything for the Village.

Ted Esborn said it would prevent an applicant from arguing that the application’s deemed approved.

Mr. Marquardt said no, because it’s not in there.

David Hartt said it leaves it muddy though.

Chair ProTem Syracuse said the only thing I could think of that could possibly hurt the Village if we don’t put anything in here would be if the delay causes them some monetary damage. If we don’t have anything in here, then they wouldn’t know what to expect. For example if we don’t have a quorum for a couple months and don’t actually vote on that, then they would be able to file suit against the Village because they’ve been damaged as a result of our inaction. Other than that I agree, I don’t think there’s anything they would do that could hurt the Village by not putting it in here. Unless someone were to say, I’ve waited 3 months and now I’ve had all these expenses; Engineer, Surveyor, etc. and I don’t have a reasonable expectation as to when this is going to be voted on, and they could try to come after the Village to recoup those fees.

Mr. Marquardt said we don’t have it on the books now and never had a problem.

Ms. Calta said in the Charter there’s a similar provision that applies differently though. Section II. Mandatory Referral of Ordinances and Resolutions. But it’s generally for public buildings, streets, boulevards, parkways, paths. It’s mostly public construction.

“Any matter so referred to the Planning & Zoning Commission shall be acted upon by it within ninety (90) days from the date of referral unless a different period of time is mutually agreed upon between Council and the Commission. If the Planning and Zoning Commission shall fail to act within the time allotted, it shall be deemed to have adopted such matter.”

Ms. Calta thinks everyone has somewhat of an expectation of how long it’s going to take them to get through Planning Commission and what’s the longest it could be.

Mr. Marquardt said East Common’s across from Governor’s Village has been going on for years. Garry said Hilton Garden too.

Ms. Calta said yes. Some of these things do take some time. There’s probably an argument to say you don’t need to have a timeframe in there. I think if there isn’t a timeframe in there, I know that there’s always going to be that question.

Mr. Marquardt said if it’s in there, after two years, someone will say this thing is approved.

Ms. Calta said David flip flopped the language to say “The applicant may deem the application denied”.

Ms. Calta said this is the reverse, thinking out loud, what if you said 90 days and if it’s not approved within that time, the Commission deems it denied unless extensions granted.

Mr. Marrelli likes the reverse, that we keep control of the clock. Then you won’t have the applicant disappear for 6 months with no kind of input, no pulling up stakes and disappearing. In that circumstance, they’d have to request an extension. That way they have 90 days to get their act together and back to the Planning Commission. I think you have to put the heat on them to perform. I think we should give them the timeframe and extensions for good cause.

Mr. Marquardt thinks the way it’s written, it goes the opposite way. I don’t think it’s protecting the Village.

Mr. Fikaris said we acted (didn’t approve or deny) on East Commons, not deemed complete. If they walk away, I like the idea there’s a record that we acted.

David Hartt agrees if you leave it up to the applicant, they may not make that determination for months.

Mr. Marrelli using Developer for East Commons example, he’s taking a bite at the apple little bit, little bit, then he gets to the point and says; maybe I’ll shop this before I go any further. Then we’re put on the back burner. At least he would have to pursue it to this finish, then shop it.

David Hartt asked, what’s the harm with the Village waiting?

Mr. Marrelli said because we have to try and remember it, go back and recreate the details and bring everything back to life.  

David Hartt said if Sam goes over the time limit, if he’s not careful he could get a denial from the PZC, he’d have to request an extension. He now has enough sense from the community on a preliminary plan approval that is acceptable. He wants to put it on hold to market it.

Mr. Regan suggests changing ‘applicant’ to ‘Commission’. Failure of the Planning and Zoning Commission to act within _____ days from the date the application was deemed complete, or an extended period as may be agreed upon, the applicant Commission may deem the application denied.

David’s o.k. with that change. But if somebody comes in and wants an extension, what’s going to be their reason to not give them the extension? His reason is he doesn’t have a firm tenant yet and he doesn’t want to make a commitment to all the engineering.

Mr. Regan said the firm tenancy thing, if you’re going to build a building and asking us to approve it, shouldn’t they have that market study done?

David replied yes and no.

Mr. Marquardt said that’s your rationale for the extension. You give a time limit on what the extension’s going to be. That sets the clock. Then we accept it or we don’t.

David Hartt said the difference puts the ball in the Village’s court, but I’m not sure unless you’re more inclined to not accept the extensions than I am that it solves the problem.

Mr. Regan said if you go with a flimsy rationale for extending, it’s better than calling up and saying I’m not going to be there, take me off the agenda.   

Ted Esborn asked, if it’s in the Village’s court, what’s the difference between this Commission deeming it denied & denying it?

David Hartt replied, if it’s in the Commission’s court, we would say it is denied. The other way we’re giving the applicant the option. They haven’t gotten an action from the Village, but if it’s the Village’s court, you can actually take action. The flip side, the reason you missed the deadline is because the Village didn’t have a quorum.

Ms. Calta said not to confuse this, can the Commission request an extension?

David replied yes.

Dr. McGrath thinks part of the problem is the Developer can drag their feet as much and as long as they want, as long as their application hasn’t been considered complete.

David Hartt clarifies. This ‘deemed complete’ is the provision we put in for John to say it meets the submission requirements, it’s sent to you now, and as soon as it’s sent to you, the meter starts to run.

Chair ProTem Syracuse said there’s a few things in here that are ambiguous and vague. Failure of the PZC to act, what is that defined as? Is that voting? Scheduling a meeting? A workshop? What does ‘to act’ mean? The other thing; To act within ____ days from the date the application was deemed complete. We might want to change that to the date the development plan was deemed completely presented to completion.

Dr. McGrath said the Developer will find those openings.

Mr. Marrelli said they’ve come to realize once they make that application, they’re in control.  

David Hartt said in reversing the language here, I have never seen this section used. The only reason we went this direction is because the historical way of saying it’s approved is much more risk to the Village. That’s why we flipped it.

Mr. Fikaris asked, was that an attempt to prevent a stonewalling?

David replied yes.

David said if we’re using the language when the application is deemed complete, I’m referring to Section 1143.04 (a) Review for Completeness.

“Within (10) days after receiving an application, the Building Commissioner shall review the submitted application for completeness and compliance with the applicable submission requirements.”

Once John’s made that determination and passes it on to the PZC, the application has been deemed complete.

Chair ProTem Syracuse asked, what is it that we have to do to act?

David Hartt replied approve, disapprove or approve with modifications.

Option to Vote at Workshop Meeting?

Mr. Regan said nowhere in here does it refer to the workshops.

David Hartt said I actually wonder why from a process standpoint you make the distinction in your meetings if something is simple at a workshop, you by titling it that way, you’ve precluded yourself from acting on it. You’ve always done that by practice rather than by code.

Mr. Regan said the workshop gives the public a chance to speak.

David said I’m not against the workshop and public participation. I’m suggesting if it’s a simple item and you have enough information that by calling it a workshop, it doesn’t give you the flexibility to act on it that night. Why not have the opportunity to vote at both meetings?

Chair ProTem Syracuse prefers to keep all the voting at one meeting to keep consistent procedurally.

Ms. Calta said there’ve been times where there’s been a need to move things faster.

Chair ProTem Syracuse said we have the option to hold a Special Meeting to vote.

1143.10 Plan Submission Requirements

David Hartt said we still need some work making the distinction between the Preliminary & Final Development Plan. The language in this section is the existing language. It’s for Development Plans. The title is Development Plans but the text says Preliminary Development Plans, and you don’t have anything for Final Development Plan. The Final Development Plan will be developed in more detail.

Mr. Marrelli said initially you’re looking at a concept plan so they don’t go too deep.

David said correct. The typical thing people most worry about in a Preliminary Development Plan is has the drainage been thought through enough. You’re giving the community reasonable confidence that the area you’ve reserved will technically work. That’s the key element.

Ms. Calta worries there’s so much between the Preliminary and Final. There’s always so much change from what we see when they come in to the Final. If you stretch it even farther, I feel like you’re going to see even a bigger stretch between the concept and the final which worries me. Where can we get involved in directing?

David said you’re going to ask for the Engineer’s opinion even at the Preliminary Plan stage. The Village Engineer is going to talk to their Engineer to whether their preliminary calculations seem to be o.k. You then rely on your Engineer to say it looks reasonable at this point. I don’t know how else to do it. Again, if they’re doing the detailed engineering, they’re spending money and you want to be able to change that plan.

Chair ProTem Syracuse said earlier, you mentioned the Architectural Review Board that will come into play in this process. They’ll have guidance from the Village throughout. Between the Preliminary and the Final, there’s a lot of steps they have to take.

Mr. Marquardt said essentially what they’re presenting is whatever preliminary thing, then evolves. I don’t understand why the necessity of specifying or dividing the Preliminary from the Final. It’s going to be one plan that gets put together and evolves no matter what.

Mr. Marrelli said on the preliminary they don’t show water lines, gas lines, electric lines. No utility details. You would hope if you’re a Developer and you’re buying 10 acres of land that you’re darn sure you could take care of the water that’s going to land on it before you put your money on that.  

David Hartt would say both East Commons and Deacon’s prior to the zoning, were fitting this criteria as now written and not meeting the standards of the existing code at the Preliminary Plan stage.

Ms. Calta said they were both Developers in my opinion that kept saying; What do you want me to do? How do you want me to do it? Where should I do it?

David asked what Preformed Line did.

Mr. Marrelli said they put the big addition on the side and back. Their Engineer worked with our Engineer. They went around, around & around. Finally came to an agreement on how deep, how big and how it was going to be landscaped. Came back to the Planning Commission with their drawings and landscape plans and got approved.

David asked if they did a Preliminary & Final.

Mr. Marrelli said their Preliminary was like a Final. They had tons of detail on it. When they walked through the door, they had plans that were going to work.

David said Bill, I’m not suggesting that an applicant has to do a Preliminary & Final. They can come in with the Final if they want to. I’m just suggesting if they choose to come in with a Preliminary Plan, it not be so rigorous that they’re not inclined to want to make some changes.

Mr. Marquardt said I think you already have it in place, I don’t think it’s necessary. You’re doing this to protect the applicant. I don’t see the need for it.

David said no, I’m doing it to make sure the Village gets the best plan early in the process before people dig into it.

Mr. Marquardt said either they’re going to give something sketchy or something complete. It’s going to evolve no matter what. Whether they give you something sketchy or something complete like Preformed, what’s the difference? Why do you have to spell it out for both Preliminary & Final?

Mr. Marrelli said the difference is it’s cheap and easy to do a Preliminary with nothing on it and take a chance.

Mr. Marquardt said that’s what they do anyway. What’s the difference?

David asked, so what would you do?

Mr. Marquardt replied, nothing. Leave it the way it is.

Mr. Marrelli said because of the way we’re changing the language so the application has to meet this completeness standard. It’s which completeness standard? Preliminary completeness or Final completeness?

Mr. Marquardt said I don’t think you’re benefitting the Village by some of this stuff. All you’re doing is setting down rules that’s going to bind you more than what you got now. If we haven’t seen a problem with what you’ve got now, I think it’s going to create more.

Mr. Marrelli said the problem is sometimes it’s not defined how much information you need to go forward. What do you need for me to get onto an agenda?

Chairman ProTem Syracuse said this is the minimum, you can always encourage them to provide more. But it wouldn’t be required for it to be deemed a complete application.

Mr. Marrelli said any Developer that wants to succeed would give you enough information that you could understand the project without getting into detention basins and electric lines. There’s almost not a good point to say this is Preliminary and this is Final. You might want to reword it to a Concept (an idea) Plan vs. Development Plan.

Dr. McGrath said John’s the middle man. There’s the Developer, then there’s us. Some of what we’re trying to do here is define things so John is consistent telling Developers this is how it should be, this is what we need. Do we have to codify that or can it be a list for John?

Chairman ProTem Syracuse said it’s already written in the code. Instead of John giving a list, he says look at our code Section 1143.10, it gives a list of what you need to provide. That’s the minimum. You can encourage them to submit more towards what would be included in a Final.

David Hartt said what we’re doing is recording the practice.

Mr. Marrelli said when you do a Final Development Plan, there’s a lot more to it than what you have listed:

  1. All of the information required in the Preliminary Plan.
  2. Detailed site development information with respect to utilities, paving, grading, drainage.
  3. Detailed landscape plan
  4. Signs.


Mr. Marrelli said there’s the lighting levels, plantings list, utilities, etc. A lot of details. 

Ms. Calta said if we’re going to start with completeness of an application, we want to have them spelled out the best we can.

David Hartt said they can forego the Preliminary Plan. That’s their call.

Chairman ProTem Syracuse said if you have it listed separate; Preliminary & Final, in my mind it’s better to have it in here to refer them to this Code Section. Otherwise, you’re almost giving them legal advice. It’s in the book, the burdens on them.

1143.13 Minor Alterations Approved by Building Commissioner

David Hartt said I mentioned earlier giving the Building Commissioner the authority to approve minor things. Other communities have said, can you quantify numerically what minor is. The answer is, we’ve tried. Minor on one site is different than minor on another site.

Mr. Marrelli said this would keep us from coming here for somebody taking out a man door and putting in a garage door on a commercial building.

Mr. Marquardt comments on the variance thing, the Development Plan ought to be consistent with minor alteration.

1143.16 Equivalency Provision

David Hartt said this is giving you the authority to relax a literal requirement with the standards if you think that the adjustment approves to the design of the buildings. I’d use the language as equal to or better than strict compliance. You already have the authority. We like this and add it in codes where particularly the community is significantly developed.

You can leave this the way it is but you have to be careful about the difference between equivalency as judged by the PC and relief that requires a variance.

Ms. Calta said Garry likes the language imaginative & skillful.

David said if you’re using this provision, whether your language or new, some communities have said you can’t approve it the same night. You have to think about it and write up to make sure you’ve carefully documented the rationale for using this equivalency judgment that it’s equal to or better than.

Mr. Marrelli asked how you handle procedurally when the building or zoning code requires a specific standard be met and then the Planning Commission decides the imagination of the Developer is so good that we’re going to throw that out the window, how do you justify it on paper?  

David replied you’re making the judgment that it’s equal to or better than, not relief from.

Mr. Marrelli used Hilton Garden Inn parking for example. They were imaginative in giving us their layers of hours of operations, but we still went to the BOA and got them a variance.

David gives example. There’s a stand of woods right at the building setback line on half the frontage of the site. If somebody puts the building right at the setback line, they’re going to have to take down all those trees. To make the building work and still get enough parking, they’re going to put a jog in the building. In order to get the same amount of floor area and parking, one side of the building is going to encroach in front of that setback line, but the other side of the building is going to be behind the trees. The question is, do you have an equivalent benefit outcome to the community even though part of that building’s gone over the setback line.

Mr. Marrelli said we’d say we realize this is a good idea. You’d memorialize that in your workshop, but go to the Zoning Board and get your variance.  

David said then you’re not using this provision.

Mr. Marrelli said correct. We’re not using it. This seems very subjective.

Ms. Calta wouldn’t take out the flexibility though. It’s meant to be used in very limited circumstances.

CONSENSUS: Keep current language.

1143.18 Similar Use Determinations
Ted Esborn said this is a provision of particular significance to me. I got a call in the last few weeks from a property owner with an inquiry about a Martial Arts Studio. I think that would be a similar use determination. Right now the way our procedures are, it would need to get a Conditional Use Permit. We would look at that use and asking if it’s similar to the other uses. Having this provision would change a lot of what we do with new uses that don’t exactly fit the code.

Mr. Marquardt said it’s pretty loose.

Ms. Calta asked if the Conditional Use Permit Guidelines will be incorporated in here.

David Hartt will re-review those.

1143.19 Public Hearing and Notice Requirement for Conditional Uses by Planning & Zoning Commission
David Hartt notes this needs to be expanded.



David Hartt said there’s one paragraph in the code now that talks about nonconforming uses. I don’t know whether that provision is really meant to apply to nonconforming uses or whether the term nonconforming uses is meant to apply to all the other possible non-conformities that exist. I don’t want to make too big a deal about this in a small community, but there are a lot of other non-conformities that are just nonconforming uses.

1149.01 Intent

1149.02 Lawful Non-Conformance

1149.03 Non-Conforming Uses of Buildings

1149.04 Non-Conforming Use of Land

1149.05 Expansion of a Building with a Non-Conforming Use

1149.06 Non-Conforming Buildings and Structures

1149.07 Non-Conforming Site Conditions

1149.08 Non-Conforming Lots

1149.09 Cessation of Non-Conforming Uses

1149.10 Existing Use Deemed Conditional Use

1149.11 Completion of Construction with Zoning Certificate

David said all of this is designed to set limitations on all of those things.

Three things of importance.

  1. If you have a nonconforming building and the building doesn’t comply with the front setback, if I want to put an addition on that building on the rear that conforms with the rear setback, but I still have the front setback nonconforming, can I add onto that building? I would say yes, but the code is silent about that. Some communities say if it’s a nonconforming condition, I can’t do anything to that building unless I bring everything into compliance.


Mr. Marrelli said our code says you can’t do anything to that building except maintain it or you have to go to Council for approval.

David is not saying it’s a nonconforming use.

Mr. Marrelli is saying it’s a nonconforming building. Let’s say it’s in the wrong zone.

David said no. This is in the right zone with the right use, but doesn’t comply with a particular setback. One of the setbacks is over the setback line.

Mr. Marrelli said you don’t deal with that. It’s existing. You only deal with the part they’re trying to change.

David said right. I want to build onto the other side of the building and I have room to put that addition on in compliance with that setback on that side of the building.

Mr. Marrelli said shouldn’t be an issue.

David said that’s what we’re saying. But it’s not in the code. Nothing in the code addresses that. It could be interpreted that you’re increasing a nonconforming condition.

Mr. Marrelli said every time you widen a street you’ve screwed up everybody’s setbacks. You make everybody nonconforming on a whole street. You have to accept that fact and take that into consideration when something comes forward.

Mr. Marquardt said to me, when you keep adding stuff, you complicate things. It’s not preventing you from doing what we’re doing, so what’s the problem?

Mr. Regan said it’s giving guidance.

Mr. Marquardt said it’s in place. There’s nothing that says you can’t apply for the thing and meet the other requirements.

Mr. Marrelli said every time we pass a zoning provision, last time we did residential lot sizes they boosted them up I think from 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. It made whole sections of town nonconforming. Anytime somebody wanted to put an addition on their house, using these directives would have to go through this as a nonconforming use situation. It’s only if they’re trying to make the non-conformity bigger. For example, the front setback is impacted because we widened SOM. It’s supposed to be 60’, now it’s 55’. They come in and want to put an addition on the front. Well, you’re already nonconforming so we have an issue. But if they come to me to put an addition on the back and they meet all the setbacks, no problem.

David Hartt said that is what this is saying.

Mr. Marrelli said o.k., why do we even need it?

David replied the concern is if you have a nonconforming condition, that the interpretation can be that you can’t do anything unless you bring the whole site into compliance.

Mr. Marquardt asked, whose interpreting it?

David said that’s the problem. Who is interpreting it?

Mr. Marquardt said we are.

David asked, are you going to interpret it consistently over the years? It should be written so that it is interpreted consistently.

Mr. Marrelli said our nonconforming criteria is based on use.

David said this is broadening the nonconforming elements…...

Mr. Marrelli said I’m not sure you want to go there with that. I think you’re opening a can of worms with that. We already have on the books a lot of record which means if it was ever platted and recorded, it’s legal no matter what size it is. Doesn’t mean you could build on it, but it means it’s legal. Nonconforming use would be like Dr. Eadie’s Dental office. It’s a house that’s being used as a commercial enterprise. When he wanted to expand that, we went to Council. Council said you’ve been there all this time, you’re a nonconforming use, we like the idea, we think it’s good, go ahead.

Mr. Regan said don’t you think it’s a good idea to have that on record that you can do those things?

Mr. Marrelli said it’s already written. An expansion of a nonconforming use is permitted with Council approval.

Mr. Regan says good night to all and leaves @ 9:05 p.m.

Discussion to be continued…………



David Hartt said Beta Center wanted to replace their tattered temporary real estate sign on their building facing 271. They went to the Board of Appeals to get a variance to replace it and make it bigger.

Ted Esborn said their neighbor at 600 Beta had a larger sign granted by variance. Aside from replacing their tattered sign, they wondered how they could get as much freeway facing signage as their neighbor has.

Mr. Fikaris (Also sits on the BOA) said the initial one was a For Sale sign. The difference is when a title transfers on that building, it’s sold. A For Lease sign is in perpetuity.

David said the BOA denied the variance and at the same time asked Administration to evaluate the merits of the buildings on 271 getting special treatment. Diane, Ted & myself looked at it. We think those are unique buildings with unique locations and have unique visibility problems and need bigger signs. We support the notion that building facing 271 is entitled to an additional real estate sign. It’s not adding to clutter because the signs on Beta Dr. can’t be seen at the same time you’re seeing the sign on the wall of 271. You have in your packet a draft regulation for permitting all those buildings to have a real estate sign equal to 120 square feet. Only 25% of it can be used for the identification of the realtor or broker. We’re minimizing the advertising benefit of it. The sign shall be permitted for an initial six months period. The initial six month period shall be automatically extended by the approval of the Building Commissioner, so long as the sign is found to be in good condition and repair.

Beta Center is going back to the BOA Tues. We’re saying yes, we support this. If the BOA agrees with our recommendation then the matter is resolved for now. The question is still, will the Planning Commission endorse this as an Ordinance change. If the variance is granted, there’s no emergency to make the change legislatively.

Chair ProTem Syracuse asked for clarification of the signs automatic extension by approval of the Building Commissioner.

Ms. Calta said we didn’t feel it was necessary for everybody to come back every six months to ask for permission for an extension. It seems these buildings want these For Lease signs up there all the time. Why would you put it up for six months then take it down. We’re talking about six properties, only three are multi-tenant. If it’s just those properties with just this size, John has a lot of discretion as to how they’re maintained.

Ted Esborn said we didn’t want the property owner to have to take down the sign after six months.

Ms. Calta said just so you know, we went the other way too, why even have the six months in there? These signs here could be more temporary in nature. They’re not going to be a permanent sign. But somebody could ask for a permanent sign. If that’s the case, then they’ll go through the usual permanent sign process and that six month period would not apply to that sign.

Mr. Fikaris said the BOA had a few issues; could we dictate what’s on the sign? Another was the effectiveness. The effectiveness is highly questioned of those signs because in this day and age, that’s not what catches it. That’s my opinion. Lastly, having the phone number of the broker, these brokers represent potentially thousands of properties. It’s free advertisement for them. If you keep this to the letter of the law where you have to have a 16 sq. ft. sign or apply for a permanent sign, let them put the scratch into it. Our code requires people to sink a considerable amount of money into signage that’s going to look good and last. If we can’t legislate what’s on the sign, let them go ahead and make it permanent. I’d like to put our Economic Development Director’s phone number on that sign and if someone’s interested in that property great, if not we’ll forward them to the broker.

Mr. Marquardt says good night to all and leaves @ 9:15 p.m.

Ms. Calta said 1185.15 (f) is the permanent section. It’s meant to not restrict them to only putting up permanent signs, but allows them to do that. We’re not looking to give anyone free advertising. As far as requirements for brokers & realtors, there’s a revised code section that says they have to identify who they are. We thought let’s limit that to 25%. To your comment if anybody is really renting, leasing or selling from seeing the phone number on the freeway? I talked to Ted if there’s some way to do a QR Code. There’s still this mentality that if you’re on 271 and you have that visibility, you’re going to have somebody driving by and they’re going to call your number. The next piece to the puzzle will be discussion about Beta Dr. and the signs that front there.

Mr. Fikaris said I find it very interesting that there’s this portion for a low entry free, somebody gets some great exposure.

Chairman ProTem Syracuse said it’ll be voted on again at the next Board of Appeals.

Ted Esborn asked when the first vinyl sign went up on Beta.

Mr. Marrelli replied about 10 years ago.

David Hartt said you can argue the same thing for Beta Dr. They’re never going to take down their advertising. Is someone really going to call from driving down Beta Drive?

Mr. Fikaris said we know about Highland Hts. How about other communities along rights-of-way?

Ms. Calta mentioned Bratenahl shoreway that has the sign place.

Mr. Marrelli said the only part I’m a little uncomfortable with is it’s considered temporary. It’s temporary because theoretically if you rent everything and have nothing for rent, you should take it down. We know that’s not the real world. It’s a temporary sign for a permanent condition.

Dr. McGrath said because they’ll always have something for rent someplace else.

Chairman ProTem Syracuse suggests we continue this discussion at the next workshop meeting. Let’s place it fist on the June agenda.

David Hartt said if we in Administration think this is the way to go and the Board of Appeals turns down the variance, we may be asking for the legislative process to go on fast track.

Chairman ProTem Syracuse said it’s not up to us to tell the Board of Appeals what to do but if they vote no on the variance request and then it comes back to us to try and do this, we’ll be asked for a vote. Let’s address this at the next workshop.

David Hartt said if the variance is granted, let’s put this in the package with all the other amendments because there will be no urgency.

Ms. Calta comments this does not apply to Progressive. It didn’t make sense to expand it for either Campus I or II, because they both have frontage.

Discussion to be continued…………

Chairman ProTem Syracuse recommends a 6:30 start time at the June 19th workshop.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Deborah Garbo
Executive Assistant
Building Department