Development in Mt. Lookout

Following is information about development-related topics in Mt. Lookout. 


City Proposes Zoning Code Amendments – 
Changes Will Affect Urban Design Overlay Districts
(like Mt. Lookout Square) 

 

VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING*
Thursday, July 29, 2021 | 5 p.m.

*You must request a meeting link to participate (see below for details)

The City is proposing a number of text amendments to the City Zoning Code. The list is long, and many are minor. However, one set of proposed changes caught our attention in that they would make it significantly easier to demolish existing buildings within Urban Design (UD) Overlay Districts. The purpose of a UD Overlay District is to protect the physical character of designated business districts and ensure that infill development does not adversely affect that character. Mt. Lookout Square is an UD Overlay District.

MLCC’s concerns regarding the proposed changes focus on the following:

  • The language of the proposed amendments is too broad and creates opportunities to bypass the protections of the Urban Design Overlay designation.

  • The proposed changes would allow the destruction of any building in the district, even if it is a contributing part of the community’s aesthetic. This goes against the purpose of the Urban Design Overlay District.

  • The new language would also allow the City to approve demolition of an existing building in a UD district based solely on an owner’s claims of economic hardship. This too easily favors developers who proactively purchase viable properties then claim they cannot collect an adequate return on their investment unless the existing building is demolished and replaced.

  • The proposed language allows the decision to demolish existing buildings in UD districts to rest with a single person, the City’s Zoning Hearing Examiner, rather than a panel of decision-makers, such as the City Planning Commission.

Further, the MLCC is deeply concerned that the process to appeal decisions made under these new guidelines (which favor developers over communities) will require legal assistance for communities to achieve equal standing with developers. This is a very time consuming and expensive process, which puts undue strain on local community councils.

More information about the proposed changes is available on City Planning’s website.

We encourage you to review the summary of the proposed modifications and share your input with the City either by sending an email or participating in the meeting on July 29.


TO PARTICIPATE
This City meeting will be held virtually via Zoom. To listen and/or participate, send a meeting link request to Andy Juengling, Senior City Planner, at the email address below. Questions and comments submitted by email are also welcome.

Andy Juengling
andy.juengling@cincinnati-oh.gov
(513) 352-4840


City Proposes Zoning Code Amendments –
Removal of Density Restrictions 

 

VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING*
Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 | 5 p.m.

*You must request a meeting link to participate (see below for details)

The City wants to increase density within its 52 neighborhoods as well as the availability of affordable housing. To make this easier, the City is proposing to remove all density limitations in certain zoning districts including two found Mt. Lookout:

RM – 2.0: Multi-family
RM – 1.2: Multi-family

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MT. LOOKOUT?
For areas zoned RM 1.2 and RM 2.0, the current space requirements per unit in a single building would be eliminated and more units can be built within the structure (the overall size of building itself would remain the same). In the “Same Building Size More Units” graphic included in this enewsletter, the City shows that under these proposed new rules, a multi-family building that currently is only allowed to have one unit per floor could be reconfigured to contain as many units as the property owner and/or developer desires (in the case of the example provided, the number of units per floor increases from one to nine).

In Mt. Lookout, this affects areas in the included map that are highlighted in light and dark brown. These include:

  • The intersection of Delta & Griest

  • Portions of Linwood Ave, east and west of the Square

  • Portions of Ellison, Nash, Totten, Van Dyke, and Mowbray 

  • West side of Delta, south of the Square

If these zoning changes are approved, the existing buildings in these areas could be retrofitted to add more units or torn down to accommodate new buildings that house more units than are currently allowed.

At this point, it’s unclear what the ramifications related to parking, traffic and public services in our neighborhood would be (including sewer, stormwater, schools, emergency services), but we are highly sensitive to these issues, especially after the recent flooding experience throughout Mt. Lookout. It’s for this reason that we request your participation in these discussions by either attending the public meeting on Aug. 4 or submitting letters with your comments to the City.

More information about this proposed change is available on City Planning’s Planning Projects & Studies webpage.


TO PARTICIPATE:
To listen and/or participate, send a meeting link request to James Weaver, Senior City Planner, at the email address below. Comments sent by email are also welcome.

James Weaver
james.weaver@cincinnati-oh.gov
(513) 352-4882


1009 – 1015 Delta Avenue Redevelopment 

Information about this project has been moved to our 1009 – 1015 Delta Redevelopment page. Please visit there for the most recent updates. 


Brookfield Lane Development

Information about this project has been moved to our Brookfield Lane Development page. Please visit there for the most recent updates. 


Subdivision Rules and Regulations

(Note: The term “subdivision” refers to practice of splitting a single lot into two or more parcels)

In 2018, the MLCC began working with the City of Cincinnati to address the increasing levels of new development taking place in Mt. Lookout and Hyde Park. As part of this effort, the MLCC participated on the Subdivision and Zoning Working Group which was appointed by City Council to explore options to address concerns regarding home demolition and lot splits. The Working Group was comprised of representatives from the City Planning Department, City Council, Mayor’s Office, Home Builder’s Association, Board of Realtors, Hyde Park Neighborhood Council and Mt. Lookout Community Council. Tasks included revising the City’s Subdivision Rules and Regulations and exploring the possible formation of Neighborhood Conservation Districts.

One of the major tasks undertaken by the Working Group was to review and revise the City’s Subdivision Rules and Regulations, which would apply to all 52 of the City’s neighborhoods. After sharing drafts of the Group’s recommendations with our communities for input, the Working Group presented its recommended revisions to the City Planning Commission on Dec. 20. The Commission approved them unanimously and the revised Subdivision Rules and Regulations went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.  Some key elements include:

–Language that encourages developers or others planning to split a lot to make preliminary development plans available for public review and input prior to filing a subdivision application.

–More stringent criteria pertaining to the creation of rear (or panhandle) lots.

–A new requirement that signage be posted on all lots for which subdivision applications have been filed. Posted prior to the City approving the applications, this signage will indicate that a lot split is being considered at that location and will state where to find more information and how to submit comments.

–A reduction in the number of lot splits that classify as a Minor Subdivision from five lots or less to three lots or less.


Neighborhood Conservation Districts

In August 2018, the Working Group completed draft legislation that would allow a new Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) chapter to be added to the City’s zoning code. A new concept to Cincinnati, NCDs are planning tools commonly used to preserve distinct neighborhood characteristics threatened by new development. NDCs vary between communities and can be tailored to fit the needs and wants of specific communities. NDCs can be similar in concept to Historic Districts, but are less rigid and offer more flexibility in terms of restrictions to be applied. After studying NCDs in other cities, the Working Group agreed that forming NCDs for Mt. Lookout and Hyde Park would address many of our neighborhoods’ development concerns and prepared draft NCD plans for both Mt. Lookout and Hyde Park, both of which focused exclusively on managing the size, scale and placement of new houses on lots within our neighborhoods.

Both the City Planning Commission and the City Council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee approved the proposed legislation that would allow communities to create NCDs, and they approved both Mt. Lookout’s and Hyde Park’s proposed NCD Plans. The final step before these could be implemented was to get approval from the full City Council. However, before a vote could be taken, the proposed NCD legislation and NCD plans were pulled from Council’s agenda by the Mayor’s office and no vote was taken. At this point, City Planning is no longer exploring the creation of NCDs.

Upon further discussion with the Mayor and city representatives, it’s our understanding that there was concern that implementing multiple NCDs across the City’s 52 neighborhoods could be difficult for the City to manage among its existing staff, and that Mt. Lookout’s and Hyde Park’s NCD plans were too restrictive to development. Although we understand the basis of these concerns, the MLCC Board still thinks there is merit in NCDs and would like to explore refining the concept with the City.


City Planning Commission Meetings

Information packets for all upcoming City Planning Commission meetings are posted at the bottom of the City Planning Commission’s webpage. Meeting packets also include application materials as well as the City Planning staff’s analysis and recommendation (Staff Report) for each application.

Comments regarding active applications can be submitted in person at the scheduled Planning Commission Meeting or sent via email to the contacts listed above.

You can also proactively keep an eye on the status of specific permit requests and when they are scheduled to be reviewed by visiting the City’s ezTrak Online Service webpage.


The Mt. Lookout Community Council is committed to working through the above issues with the City, and representing the interests of our community. We will continue to update our website with new information as it becomes available.

If you have questions or comments that you would like to share with the MLCC Board, please send an email to info@mtlookout.org.