Kettering seeks to speed up redevelopment

City says zoning code changes will be better, faster.

Those looking to redevelop properties in Kettering might have an easier time complying with zoning regulations if a major overhaul of the city’s zoning code is approved by council in the coming months.

The proposed code would relax regulations for common zoning variance requests, such as fences, walls and hedges, in order to encourage redevelopment and streamline compliance, according to city manager Mark Schwieterman.

“Kettering is now almost 60 years old, and we’re not a development city. We’re a redevelopment city,” Schwieterman said. “We’re not green fields. We’re using current buildings and using them for something else. It’s time to make sure our code recognizes that.”

The planning commission has recommended city council adopt the rewritten code, which is the product of a years-long overhaul, Schwieterman said. Council held a public hearing on the proposed code last week and is reviewing it in the coming months before an expected vote in the spring.

The code would relax some requirements, allowing fences and privacy screens where, under current law, a developer would need to request a variance. The code would also allow small improvements to properties with stipulating complete compliance at the time of the improvement.

Areas of integrated uses, accommodating both residential and commercial building, would give developers more options for redevelopment under the revised code.

“We’re improving the process people will have to go through to redevelop in Kettering. In the old process, you would have to go to the planning commission and the board of zoning appeals to get a variance,” he said. “In the future, we’ll build some of these things into the code so they’re already allowed.”

The city wants to encourage redevelopments such as the Shops at 3000, a retail center built in 2012 at the intersection of Far Hills and Dorothy Lane, Schwieterman said. But the current code doesn’t support that type of project.

“Our code wasn’t designed to accommodate something with that type of layout, that close to the street. But that is exactly what you want on a corridor like Far Hills,” he said. “If a project like that came under the proposed code, it would move much more quickly through the process.”

The revised code also contains new restrictions on commercial vehicles, equipment and storage on residential property, as well as updated infill standards to ensure that new houses match existing neighborhoods.

Council is currently reviewing the planning commission’s recommendation, and a first reading of the legislation is expected at the March council meeting.

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