Thursday, April 13, 2000

Woodlawn hones plan for renewal

BY Sara J. Bennett
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WOODLAWN — Village planners are moving to rezone Woodlawn's main thoroughfare, Springfield Pike (Ohio 4), into a unified looking downtown.

        After working with professional consultants and considering the concerns of residents and business owners along the pike, planners have fine-tuned a proposal they hope will create a tree-lined boulevard with restaurants, offices and retail shops.

        The plan includes space for a civic center that could house the village's administrative offices and a recreation complex.

        A public hearing on the plan is expected in about a month, and council could vote soon after.

        Rezoning is needed, village officials say, to attract more businesses to the village and create an identity.

        “It's an investment from the village and an investment from our businesses to put on a new face and tie everything in,” Mayor Susan Upton Farley said at an informational meeting this week.

        Certain types of businesses would not be allowed, including vehicle repair shops and warehouses. Planners have been working with owners of such businesses to assure them that rezoning won't hurt their ability to sell their property.

        The village is even considering purchasing some of the land. Ms. Farley said this week that a group of homeowners had made known a desire to sell, and the village has taken appraisals of property on the west side of Springfield Pike between Riddle and Grove roads.

        “It's an ideal place for us to highlight Woodlawn,” Ms. Farley said. “It's our front door.”

        The plan to rezone the 1-mile stretch of Ohio 4 between Wyoming and Glendale has been nearly a year in the making.

        A study done by McBride Dale Clarion said the corridor — now a hodgepodge of small homes and businesses — was “part of the lifeline of Woodlawn.” The road is an important corridor into Butler County, the study said, and it establishes the village's image.

        Planners still are eager for input from residents and business owners, said Peter Knox, chairman of Woodlawn's planning commission.

        At public hearings last year, residents and business owners expressed concern that rezoning would lower their property values if their businesses didn't fit the new permitted zoning uses.

        Planners budged in some areas. Lot sizes and front yard setbacks, for example, differ little in the new plan from current zoning.

        Businesses wouldn't have to change immediately, but upgrades would be required if they made significant changes or went vacant for more than six months.


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- Woodlawn hones plan for renewal