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Downtown district downsized in Streetsboro's updated comprehensive master plan

by mike lesko | Reporter Published: April 30, 2014 12:00 AM

Streetsboro -- The city's downtown district could become a bit smaller if proposed changes to Streetsboro's comprehensive master plan are adopted by City Council.

The downtown district now includes an area south of Route 303 and west of Route 43, and north of Route 303 and east of Route 43, according to Planning and Zoning Director John Cieszkowski Jr.

However, on a future land-use map, City Council asked that two areas be removed -- areas south of Route 303 and west of Route 43, he said, so the downtown district would be confined to the areas north of Route 303 and east of Route 43, and the areas that were outside of that would be included in a commercial development corridor.

"We want to create this downtown cohesive core," Cieszkowski said, "and it's a lot easier to do that when it's a contiguous area, [rather than on both sides of routes 303 and 43].

"From a land-use planning perspective, I did not see any major issues associated with limiting the size of the downtown district," he said. "If anything, in my mind, having a cohesive, contiguous area for the downtown district makes it easier for us to foster the type of development you would expect in a downtown district."

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Council is still debating final changes to the comprehensive master plan, which it has not yet officially approved.

Another proposed change to the future land use map involved the property owned by the schools on Route 14 across from Deer Meadow Boulevard.

The land was changed on the existing land-use map from "government institutional" to "vacant" because the land is currently vacant, he said.

"The reason that is was shown as government institutional was the auditor's records of how the parcels were taxed showed the property being owned by a tax-exempt entity, and government institutional was [previously] the most appropriate category to put that in," he said.

Cieszkowski said two maps could be removed -- one showing development limitations, which maps areas with "few," "moderate," "severe" and "very severe" environmental development limitations, and the second showing "priority conservation" areas.

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"[City Council] asked us to not only remove the priority conservation area map, but also all references to priority conservation areas, not only from the environment chapter, but also from the land-use chapter," he said.

Cieszkowski said he evaluates the changes simply as to whether they are logical from a land-use planning perspective.

"The important thing to me is that we show environmental features that are present," he said. "The way I evaluate these kind of changes is, from a land-use planning perspective, does it put the city at risk? Or are they asking for a change that I think would not be proper from a planning perspective? I didn't see a major issue with [Council] making the change."

Also, Cieszkowski said in the introduction to the environment section, it read, "Determining where significant features are and what can and cannot be built is key to starting a land-use plan."

He said the wording was "softened a little bit" so it now reads, "Determining where environmental features exist is key to starting a land-use plan."

"In my mind, that's really the important thing," he said. "It's one thing to identify where features do or do not exist. It's a whole different thing to assign a 'buildable' vs. 'non-buildable' component to that whole dynamic.

"From a planning perspective, the key is showing the location of environmental features," he said. "Even with the elimination of those two maps, they still retained maps that show the locations of environmental features, which is important in the development process. That is still retained in the plan. That's why I didn't see a major issue with the proposed changes."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

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