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Published: Wednesday, 9/15/2004

Sylvania zoning board appeals to be easier

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Members of the Sylvania Board of Zoning Appeals have suggested to city council that rules be made easier.

Matters brought to the board often are items of concern to the property owner such as a room addition which would take up more space on the property than regulations permit. The board deals with the zoning regulations, but not with larger issues, such as re-zoning.

Dick Sands, who acts as chairman of the board, said members have decided that establishing a regular meeting date should result in the cases of applicants being heard more quickly.

"We've never had a regular meeting scheduled and that can cause delays.''

Mr. Sands noted that it takes some time to get the schedules of all the board's five members coordinated to set a meeting date and then, because the meetings aren't regularly-scheduled, there is another delay because state law mandates that notification of the meeting be published 15 days in advance. With a regularly scheduled meeting the notification must be 12 days in advance.

"A lot of times that might not be a problem,'' Mr. Sands said, "but you get around September and the weather might start crowding someone's project.''

If established the board would meet the first Tuesday of each month.

"If there's nothing for us to hear, we can always cancel the meeting,'' Mr. Sands said.

He said the new rule will also make things easier for the members.

Mr. Sands noted that he and others will be able to make personal plans without the uncertainty of perhaps having to juggle a meeting around it.

"We try to run this board for the residents and I think this will help the process,'' he said.

Another rule change will be to allow variances to the zoning code by a majority of the membership rather than require four votes in favor of the appeal as it is now.

Because of the uncertainty of meeting dates, Mr. Sands said, the board often has only four members for any one session and that means an applicant must convince all of the members that a variance is warranted.

"It can make it a little more difficult,'' he said.

It can also create a problem for board members who might not agree that a variance should be granted, but are reluctant to case a vote opposing the issue because it might work a hardship on the applicant.

He said his philosophy after 18 years on the board is that "someone should be able to enjoy his own home if he's not infringing on anyone else.''

Mayor Craig Stough said complaints he has heard have dealt with delays on getting issues heard, so he would favor changes meant to expedite the process.

The proposed changes have been referred to council's zoning and annexation committee.

After the committee considers them they will make a recommendation to the council on whether the changes should be put into effect.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096



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