Design guidelines for town center in the works

by Melissa Martin

July 7 zoning commission meeting

Members of the township’s zoning commission indicated they are interested in developing architectural design guidelines for Hinckley’s town center in anticipation of future development both in the short-term and for years to come.

“When I look at town center, I look at how the zoning code is being enforced,” Zoning Commission Chair Marcus Fischer said as part of the July 7 zoning commission meeting. “In the next 20 years, I can see a substantial redesign of town center and moving forward, I think we need to protect the [existing] character and better regulate any buildings that may be moving into town center.”

When other board members questioned the urgency, Fischer said that getting design guidelines in place prior to any new development taking place is key.

“We want to make sure that we don’t lose what we have in town center as some of the more underdeveloped areas become developed or they start to do renovations on the existing properties,” he said.

While the township has the authority to establish its own architectural review board if it so chooses, Fischer said the responsibility of modifying and updating the guidelines could always be overseen by the zoning commission once established.

“We just need to have a design consultant work with us to set it up and we can continue to [amend] the guidelines as we move forward,” he said. “I don’t see a need for a separate committee.”

Fischer said that before moving forward, members plan to speak with other townships around the state, including Olmsted Township and Boardman, to determine the costs associated with hiring an outside consultant to assist the commission in developing design standards for Hinckley’s downtown area. He also indicated that members would question the need for tight design standards that can regulate everything from materials used to building color.

Though the state has granted permission for townships to form architectural review committees for this purpose under the Ohio Revised Code, Fischer said the move comes at a cost – one that would need to first be approved by township trustees.

Trustee Melissa Augustine, who was in the audience during the meeting, said that determining a price tag for hiring a consultant is the first step in moving forward. Once the commission has an estimate, it will then be able to make a formal request that the board of trustees to go out to bid to hire a design consultant.

“It is definitely a big endeavor and we want to see what it costs and weigh the importance of it,” Fischer agreed.

The commission is expected to discuss the matter further as part of its next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4.