Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Group pitches beautification plan for Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN - A citizens' group with a vision presented its suggestions for beautifying this college town yesterday to some city leaders.

The Bowling Green Citizens for Smart Growth, Inc., suggested landscaping the barren I-75 entrance and exit ramps at East Wooster Street near Bowling Green State University.

Creating a scenic corridor to the city's entrance is one of eight ideas the group offered yesterday to City Council.

The group plans to share the information with the city's planning commission tomorrow and with the zoning board of appeals next week.

“Our goal is to preserve our existing neighborhoods and to make them more livable through smart planning,'' said Mike Tyson, a carryout owner and president of the group.

The group put together an eight-point proposal with zoning amendments that would require or improve landscape buffers between commercial, multifamily, and residential areas, open up green space, consolidate new student housing on campus or nearby, and modify parking requirements for multi-family dwellings. The changes would effect new construction.

Since fall, the group has conducted a comparative study with eight similar cities - most with universities - including Oxford, Ohio; Ann Arbor, and Athens, Ohio, Mr. Tyson said. “We lined our zoning code up with theirs and we're saying, there's just a few things that could be slightly improved,'' he said. City Planning Director Rick Ketzenbarger said he welcomes the opportunity to review the group's proposal. “Obviously, citizen input is always welcome,'' he said.

Mr. Ketzenbarger said he and some of his associates have met with the group in the last few months to discuss the technical feasibility of some of the proposed projects. While he hasn't had time to review the proposal in depth, Mr. Ketzenbarger said he likes the idea of trees or shrubs separating the different zoning areas. Mr. Tyson said he believes the group's plans are reasonable and could be made a reality with cooperation from the city, community, and university. For example, he would like to see the university, Boy Scouts, and citizens come together to plant greenery along the I-75 exit and entrance ramps on East Wooster and add landscaping to the university's large parking lot that is bordered by the street and the expressway.

Mr. Tyson said the group would give council, the planning commission, and the zoning appeals board until June to review the proposal. At that time, they will ask for feedback on the study's findings.

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