The voters of the Village of Chagrin Falls will be asked to vote on two zoning issues that were placed on the ballot via initiative petitions. An initiative petition is a procedure that allows certain citizens to propose laws that the electorate can enact at a general election. The process bypasses the Village’s elected representatives, appointed committees and professional staff. In this case, certain residents are seeking to enact certain zoning laws.
Petitioners have caused the placement of zoning ordinances on the November 3, 2015, ballot to prohibit parking as an allowed use in the park. Currently, parking is permitted as an accessory use in the zoning district, which is applicable to Riverside Park. Mayor Brick has proposed that the existing parking lot on East Orange Street be expanded to provide additional parking for Village businesses and the public, generally.
Issue #17, if passed, creates a new zoning district called the “Riverside Park District”. The proposed zoning district contemplates “passive park” uses. The stated intent of the new district is to preserve and protect the values of distinctive geologic, topographic, botanic, historic or scenic areas; To preserve and protect wildlife habitats; To conserve natural resources and protect the ecological balance of an area; and To provide opportunities for environmental education and outdoor recreation that are compatible with the other objectives of the District.
The second Issue #18, if passed, would rezone the Riverside Park to the “Riverside Park District” from its current Parks and Institutional District.
The new zoning district, if approved by voters, would not permit many of the existing park uses. Most notably it does not allow parking as a lawful use. Other uses like the playground and shelter house would all become legal non-conforming structures and uses. These types of structures and uses are commonly referred to as “grandfathered.” Repair of grandfathered structures is allowed so long as structural elements are not repaired or replace. This means that major repairs or replacement of the playground equipment, shelter house and parking lot would be prohibited.
The proposed rezoning only allows passive park uses, similar to the Conservation zoning district that covers Whitesburg Park, and therefore prohibits the annual events like Blossom Time and Art by the Falls. While the ordinance purports to allow Council to permit such uses, upon the recommendation of the Parks Commission, the Parks Commission and Council are not above the zoning law and must abide by those laws.
The Mayor and Council have not endorsed these changes to the zoning on Riverside Park. The Chagrin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission will be reviewing the proposed zoning at its regular meeting on September 21, 2015 at 7:30pm in the Council Chambers of Village Hall located at 21 West Washington Street. This is a public meeting and all are welcome to attend and provide input.