Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Joint Session to Discuss the Wheel Zoning Code

Photo by Eric Ayres. Wheeling City Councilors Ty Thorngate and Vice Mayor Chad Talman (left to right) speak to the Wheeling Planning Commission on Monday night at the City-County Building.

It was suggested that a joint meeting be held to give Wheeling Planning Commission and Wheeling City Council members the opportunity to come together and openly discuss the proposed changes to the city’s zoning codes.

Agenda items related to the revision of the zoning code were presented to the Wheeling Planning Commission on Monday evening during its first regular meeting in the new year. Three different proposals came in under the new business as referrals from the city council asking for revision of these specific zoning codes addressing various issues. These requests were to abolish minimum parking requirements, permit redevelopment of non-compliant structures, and permit housing units in ancillary buildings.

Each of these three proposals sparked lively discussions at recent Wheeling City Council and City Council Development Committee meetings. City councilors expressed differing views on the required zone changes, and some expressed concerns about the proposals.

Vice Mayor Chad Talman and councilor Ty Thorngate attended a planning committee meeting Monday night to brief members on the efforts behind the proposed zone changes.

Talman said the proposed changes are becoming a nationwide trend.

Thorngate said they would like information from the planning committee on whether the city should remove minimum parking spaces in areas such as commercial areas, noting that this restriction can often hinder development of certain properties.

“Basically, we have a downtown area, but I’m going to extend it to commercial areas throughout the city,” Thorngate said, noting that residential areas will not be affected.

Talman said the city code should reflect this flexibility, rather than having each case go through a deviation-seeking process.

In another zoning change request regarding inappropriate structures, Talman said several cases had been identified where an existing structure in the city could not be rebuilt due to city codes and updated comprehensive zoning plans and maps. Facilities such as Washington Avenue Avenue Eats – a popular local restaurant destroyed by fire in late 2020 – were included in the code when it was in operation but could not be rebuilt as they did after the fire due to the city code.

Additional buildings, also known as grandma’s apartments or mother-in-law’s apartments, were allowed in Wheeling until 2001, Talman said. These units are scattered throughout the city, however they are no longer allowed due to the updated rules in the city.

“Some of the benefits simply give homeowners flexibility in what they can do with their property,” Talman said.

Officials note that Airbnb properties can be created and rented out, and increased use could lead to additional tax revenues, additional income for property owners and future incentives to invest in their properties.

Opponents of the additional structure proposal expressed concern about introducing the need for additional street parking in areas where parking spaces are already scarce.

“When I announced that I was going to run for the City Council, I assumed that I would not only do my best to make sure Wheeling succeeded now, but I would leave no stone unturned to make sure Wheeling succeeded in the future. the future, ”Thorngate said. “Obviously, trends are changing. These are ideas, we test them, and we would like to work with you to find a solution that works for everyone. “

The city leaders agreed to hold joint workshops to further discuss these proposals, voice all concerns and find compromises on some issues. A preliminary workshop between the full city council and the planning committee is scheduled for 5:00 pm on February 7 at a location to be announced at a later date. Since the full bodies of both organizations are invited to the meeting, Sunshine laws require advance notice of the meeting to be made public.

Officials suggested breaking the working sessions into separate topics, with the first meeting on February 7 on parking requirements and inadequate structures and a separate working session on auxiliary structures.

One public hearing in the future could cover all three topics.

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