Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Lebanon restricts architecture

Buildings must meld with historic look

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — City council adopted rules Tuesday to ensure the look of new retail and office buildings citywide is compatible with the historic city's architecture.

        “There are builders who want to do the least that they can get away with, and that's fine,” Councilman James Reinhard said before the meeting. “But if you want to do that, don't bring it to Lebanon.”

        The rules, passed by a 6-1 vote, take effect immediately, and therefore will apply to a Home Depot store planned on Ohio 48.

        The ordinance restricts the designs and materials used on the exterior of buildings. For example, walls must be brick, stone or wood in most instances.

        The recent influx of “big-box” retailers, such as Kmart — already under construction on U.S. 42 — prompted the legislation. It specifies options for making them look less boxy.

        But Watson Crossing III, a strip shopping center planned across from Kmart, will not fall under the new guidelines, Planning Director Marty Kohler said. The developer — Bear Creek Capital — submitted a site plan April 10, the same day council originally was to vote on the design ordinance. Changes delayed the vote.

        Company Vice President Steve Kelly declined to comment on the design rules or his plans for Watson Crossing.

        Such ordinances are common in other Tristate historic districts, but Centerville, a Dayton suburb, is one of the few municipalities with citywide rules.

        Some businesses — particularly auto dealers — said the rules might prevent them from expanding, and others from coming to town.

        For Mayor James Mills, the lone vote against the ordinance, it's simply too much Big Brother.

        “Why do we want to make things so difficult for people?” he said in an interview.


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