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Industry at core of original zoning
Industry at core of original zoning
By SUE REID
When Solon’s former planning director, Don Lannoch, drafted legislation for the industrial service district aimed at the Enterprise Parkway area slightly more than 20 years ago, he said it was a concept that solely originated with the industrial sector.
“We were in constant communication with them on how to make things more convenient for the industrial community,” said Mr. Lannoch, who also served as the economic development director during his tenure with the city from 1980 to 2000. “The concept of industrial service district zoning was creating some form of commercial zoning, which would provide certain services to the industry’s employees, but not necessarily attract everyday shoppers to the area.”
To change that zone from industrial to a business service district, “we had to take away industrial land.”
“That was a difficult decision, but the industry had expressed a desire not to have to go to the retail district for services during the day,” he said. “In my role as economic development director, we tried to create a zone to allow for specific activities that would be helpful for the industries to have in that location, without overly competing with the downtown.”
Lodging was a huge need, Mr. Lannoch recalled, as was a bank and restaurants.
An amendment to the zoning district to broaden uses and remove the requirement that permitted uses exclusively serve the industrial community will be before city voters Nov. 6. The C-5 zoning district is restricted to 40.8 acres on Enterprise Parkway and the immediate vicinity off Aurora Road (Route 43), east of Cochran Road.
The zoning amendment was based on a request from Davis Development Group, the primary property owner in the area. It also was a recommendation within Solon’s master plan and reaffirmed recently by the present master plan citizen’s committee during its review of the plan.
Mr. Lannoch said that, in his opinion, if it can be shown that additional permitted uses serve the purpose of the zone as it was originally intended, he would have no issue with the amendment.
“But if we start opening it to uses that don’t comply with the rezoned purpose of the distinct, uses that belong downtown and not surrounded by the industrial district,” then that is an issue, he said. He would disagree with uses that would draw people from the community to the area and none of the people from the industries.
“Our commitment to the industrial area and to everyone was that we weren’t going to take any more industrial land away,” Mr. Lannoch recalled. One parcel did get taken away, which was the original property fronting Aurora Road, and Enterprise Parkway had to be built, as well as part of the zone change.
“The industrial development is what pays the bills in Solon for the schools and the city,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t want to take away profit-making land, so the agreement was we would limit it to that particular piece of property, which was a little too narrow to get much industrial development on it, but could be perfect for this kind of use.”
Permitted uses in place are those that would serve the industrial area, but not take away business from the downtown. The goal with the uses that were permitted was to make a balance.
“The downtown would not lose business because of the hotel, and restaurants were still accessible to people downtown,” he gave as an example. There also were plenty of banks downtown. “We didn’t want to keep expanding that industrial district because the issue would be ‘where do we stop?’”
The area was further expanded. For example, when Homewood Suites agreed to locate in that area, “the city basically committed to them there would be no more hotels,” Mr. Lannoch said, “After I left, they agreed with developers to add another.”
Permitted uses were made clear, he said, during negotiations with the late Larry Davis, the landowner and considered one of the founding fathers of the city’s industrial community.
“There were people who said we should not negotiate with developers, but Larry (Davis) understood that I was doing what was best for the city,” Mr. Lannoch said, adding he and Mr. Davis agreed that what would do well were a hotel and a food court, as well as a daycare and restaurants.
“We had wanted a convention center, but could not get anyone to build one,” he said. “That was the one piece of the whole puzzle that we were never able to accomplish.”
The movie theater, Mr. Lannoch noted, was a “compromise” as it did not fit the model for the area. “It was intended to relieve any disadvantages the other limitations would have created for Davis.”
While Mr. Lannoch said he can see an office supply store as a reasonable addition to the Enterprise Zone area, such uses as dance studios or karate studios have nothing to do with the industrial community. He thinks the city should try to find businesses that would help Jeffrey S. Davis, the property owner and son of Larry Davis, “but not destroy the concept of what the zone is for.”
“I think downtown retailers would probably agree with me,” Mr. Lannoch said.
An estimated 10 tenants have been rejected due to existing requirements, and there is 13,000 square feet of vacant space in the 21,000-square-foot strip in the industrial service district.
“If the city decides it is absolutely positively necessary to abandon the concept of the whole district, they might as well rezone it to their regular retail zoning,” Mr. Lannoch said. “The district was set up to severely limit the uses, and it was set up to provide uses we knew we needed and we knew the industrial community needed.
“If we are gong to remove things intended to serve the industrial community and add things to serve the entire community, then it’s no longer a unique district. It’s just another retail area, and the question is, How does the city stop that from expanding within the industrial area?”
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