Following is information about development-related topics in Mt. Lookout.
City Proposes Zoning Code Amendments –
Removal of Density Restrictions
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 below, 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.
City Proposes Zoning Code Amendments –
Changes Will Affect Urban Design Overlay Districts
(like Mt. Lookout Square)
City Planning Commission, Aug. 20, 2021 (time and location – see below)
City Planning held a virtual public meeting on July 29 to discuss proposed amendments to the City zoning code. Thank you to all who participated. You can watch a recording of the meeting by clicking the link below:
We can expect a staff report of the meeting and their recommendations to be released around Aug. 12. The next step is for the City Planning Commission to review the proposed changes at a public meeting on Aug. 20. At this time, the city has tabled the discussion regarding the Urban Design Overlay District Zoning. More information will be shared once we know more about when this item will come to City Planning Commission. In the meantime, you can send your comments to Samantha McClean at firstname.lastname@example.org . We also encourage you to attend the Planning Commission meeting to address other zoning amendments still on the table such as the removal of density restrictions. The updated information regarding this meeting is directly below:
Date: Friday, August 20, 2021
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom.
The following proposed text amendments to Title XIV and XVII will be heard by the City Planning Commission:
- Scrivener’s Errors/Corrections to Title XIV and XVII
- Title XVII Land Development Code amendments for Form Based Code Districts (Definitions, Urban Agriculture, and Signage)
For more information, please visit: https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/planning/planning-projects-and-studies/active-ongoing/proposed-text-amendments-to-the-cincinnati-zoning-code/
Please note that the proposed text amendments to Chapter 1437 related to the Urban Design Overlay Districts (UDODs) have been removed from this item and will not be heard by the City Planning Commission during their August 20th meeting. We will provide more information regarding the UDOD-related text amendments in the coming weeks.
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 Aug. 20.
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 email@example.com.