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Land Use Proposed Development Ideas


Land Use State of The Community Report The area of New Portage represents a key area in the future development and prosperity of Barberton. This area encompasses the old Rockwell industrial site, as well as the new middle school, high school and the old Memorial School. In addition to these community amenities, the area is also home to a multitude of historic sites as well as plethora of different land uses. In presenting this data to the community we will break up the facts and figures, the SWINE analysis, and also try to integrate these findings into scenarios and visions for action. To begin with the study area consists of some 287 acres of land to north-west and almost adjacent to downtown Barberton. Of this acreage the dominant zoning types are medium industrial with 114 acres, and single family detached with approx. 84 acres, together these two land uses of industrial and housing represent some 84% of the total acreage. The rest is split up between schools, commercial, other residential and some office. The important figures to note are that Rockwell takes up approx. 35 acres of developable land minus 10-12 that could be left for open space/green space. In addition, if all the possible development areas in addition to Rockwell are taken into account, that total amounts to around 95 acres. Of course these numbers are open to interpretation when it comes to actually delimitating what will be done where, but the important thing to remember is that the New Portage area contains a substantial amount of possible development acreage as well as preservation and open-space opportunities. At the March 10 Neighborhood stakeholders meeting citizens were given the opportunity to give some of their opinions on the strengths and weakness of the study area. These results are compiled in the Strengths, Weaknesses, Issues, Needs and Expectations, or SWINE analysis. This report revealed some useful information as to the hopes and desires that the citizens feel are pertinent to our area. For our purposes I will try to mention several that stand out in terms of land use. Perhaps the biggest strength in our area is the inclusion of new schools. Not only are these schools new in infrastructure, but they also represent an investment in Barberton by its citizens; reflected in the Excellent ratings they received by the state. It is the opinion of our study group that these new amenities represent a significant boost to the New Portage area and to Barberton as well. They may be able to be leveraged and marketed in order to attract new people to the area, thus increasing property taxes and creating higher demand for other amenities and ancillary support services such as retail, commercial and office. Another strength expressed in the SWINE report was the presence of the Rockwell site almost centrally located within our study area. As with all economic opportunities, Rockwell must be examined with utmost scrutiny when it comes to proposals that promise jobs and economic development. While the process of determining what exactly should happen with Rockwell may take some serious time and debate, I think everyone can agree that something should happen there, and that something should express high design standards and a commitment to the long term success of Barberton as a whole. In the light of that statement, possible scenarios for development could involve neighborhood level commercial and retail to serve the new School nexus, as well as some residential development, considering its proximity to an excellent rated school system as well as its accessibility to downtown Barberton and I-76. In terms of Issues and weakness several reoccurring themes popped out, the biggest of which would probably be the lack of job opportunities. While this can be difficult to express in terms of land use, simply re-zoning districts, and creating special use districts to attract businesses will no longer suffice. Barberton already maintains a more than adequate supply of industrial land and industrial parks within its outlying regions. In addition given the current economic climate it may be necessary to look at the long term picture, instead of trying to hit that “home-run� of economic development that so many cities seek. If other issues such as aging infrastructure, crime rates, and the low sale price of houses are to be addressed, we may be able to identify the current property values and their concurrent taxes as a possible way of approaching the situation. Instead of trying to hit that home run, a more practical approach may be to build on the resources that New Portage has, such as its schools, and proximity to the historic downtown Barberton area as amenities to attract new people and thus more property taxes to the area. In addition to this new residential development idea, surrounding areas should be addressed in terms of beautification, transportation access and mobility, as well as access to open space and parks, in an attempt to paint a new picture of the Magic City and of the New Portage neighborhood itself. In terms of land use and zoning, what can we do to improve the area? By addressing the disconnect between current zoning types and preferred land uses, we may be able to provide a more accurate picture of what is really going on in the neighborhood. In this way we can address the blighted and vacant areas that need attention, as well as delineate areas that could serve as pocket parks, connecting corridors, and other low intensity land uses that strive to add accessibility and livability to the area while not requiring a huge investment in infrastructure and utilities. By approaching the situation of land use with a creative and long term vision, we may be able to address some of the more complex and delicate social and economic issues by creating a clear, comprehensible approach to neighborhood improvement through mixed-use and flex-use districts that allow creative and entrepreneurial uses of the land. As noted previously this could range from pocket parks, urban agriculture and community gardens, all the way to industrial incubators, and the utilization of existing structures for other uses, such as a College satellite campus, a vocational school, or another community outreach or neighborhood organization.


At left is a chart of the number of homes sold per year within the subject neighborhood. In the early part of the decade, the pricing was stable. However, the market absorbed considerably more units in 2003. Sellers adjusted in response to the demand in 2004 as the price per square foot increased and demand faltered. 2005 was a banner year and the invention of subprime lending was full throttle, along with other creative financing. 2006 saw a decline in sales, but still properties were moving. 2007 & ’08 saw the decline setting in. 2009 was the last year for the First Time Home Buyer’s Credit ($8,000) per purchase. Those that were in the market were inclined to purchase before tax credits expired. In 2010, the subject area saw the purchases plummet. So far for 2011, only 3 homes have been sold. It is unlikely that adding new homes to the market will significantly increase the amount of sales, as the absorption rate (amount of homes being sold in the market) is nearing zero. The forecast homes sales for the subject area are from 8 to 12 for the study area for 2012. However, this does not take into effect the external influence of a new high school / new middle school in the neighborhood. Generally, one-bedroom apartment rentals are usually about 800 sf on the low end. As previously suggested, new homes in the 1200-1300 square foot range would be a good way to infill some lots in the subject area. The Rockwell site is the future of the neighborhood. Frankly, I don’t see absorption that would facilitate the development of the site in any immediate fashion. More conservative views estimate the housing recovery will take over a decade to recover – in a straight line assumption. However, that is a national average . . .and northeast Ohio has lagged for decades below average market value for home pricing. Any development of the former Rockwell site should be void of single family housing until surrounding home values stabilize as the current physical condition of the existing housing stock improves. A varied use concept that has good real estate fundamentals will prove to be an asset to the community overall. Apartments or condo type housing that reflect a concentration of population driven by the desire of new schools should be a focus.

However, there is a give and take. The city must acquire the property for probably above market value, and sell off to developers at below market pricing. Inherently, for reuse by our plan, the existing industrial buildings appear to be within their economic life are deemed a non-future use. That being said to control the land, there will be not only the cost of the land, but building value, as well as demolition costs (& site work). Of course, everything is a negotiation. Why not choose an avenue of seller financing?

Mixed use seen in a German village. Note: mainly 3 to 4 story structures. What is clear is that it will take creative and flexible approaches to solve the problem of declining population, property values, and job opportunities. By allowing a flexible and timely response to land use needs and issues the New Portage area could serve as an example to the rest of Barberton on how to be sensitive to the ever changing economic climate we currently find ourselves in. By allowing mixed-used and flex-use use districts into the area we can provide the template upon which growth and progress can occur.


Direction Setting Framework • •

Goals To update and create land use patterns and zoning ordinances that reflect the values, objectives, and visions of the community while providing for equitable access, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship. Update the Barberton 2005 Design Guideline, and 364 page Barberton Development codes to: – Make them more accessible by compiling disparate information into more organized, succinct, and concise sections. – Add more design examples and suggestions as well as updating the development codes and guidelines, into a community pamphlet/pdf that is readable and informative,( more like an introduction and overview, instead of lengthy codes, subsections, and amendments)

Objectives •

Acquire Rockwell through multiple means. – i.e. private/public partnerships – community foundation grants – CDGB money if possible

Create alternative scenarios of development for the Rockwell site that take into account holding capacity and possible impacts on local infrastructure, housing, and land use; utilizing an incremental “phased” approach

Link open spaces with new trails and sidewalks within existing neighborhoods and new development opportunities, in addition provide for street connectivity that promotes an appropriate traffic volume for the corresponding/adjacent land use. In addition allow for a multi-modal transportation approach within land use delineations and design suggestions.

Co-ordinate and create a comprehensive list of the various Barberton Community Groups/Foundations in order to educate the public/private sector on possible economic development opportunities and home/neighborhood improvement projects.

Implement historic and higher design standards for new housing, and multi-unit housing in order to allow new development and improvements to “fit in” with the existing neighborhood and historic downtown Barberton Policies Provide for the timely dissemination of information regarding land use changes and planning events. – Address current zoning and land use disconnects by either re-zoning specific areas or updating zoning maps and zoning ordinances to reflect the actual land use – Allow for an open public participation process that reviews current zoning ordinances in order to accommodate new land use ideas, such as pocket parks, community gardens, rain gardens, granny flats, mixed use retail/residential areas Ensure that new development and infill development occur at densities appropriate to their corresponding Transect Zone; provide design and density examples for each zoning/land use type. Utilize the idea of pedestrian sheds to guide further land use changes and zoning changes in order to coordinate more effectively with transportation decisions.

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Land Use Changes and Development Proposals •

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Convert Rockwell into a sustainable mixed use neighborhood made up of residential, commercial, recreational and light industrial uses. Preserve current industrial buildings south of old B&G plant in Rockwell in order to create a flex use area. Create a park on the east end of Rockwell where current forest area exists. Maintain existing open space in between Rockwell and proposed park to allow for community open space and perhaps a community garden. Possible “rails-to-trails” option with the Barberton Belt-line within study area. Convert old Memorial School area into residential development. Create a special assessment / study area between Coventry and Wooster roads to allow for further study and land use recommendations. Convert the commercial area found within the Creedmore neighborhood into a mixed-use / conditional use district in order maintain the traditional residential feeling of the other areas of the neighborhood while revitalizing the commercial district. This would serve to promote and allow innovative business and development ideas, while preserving existing businesses.


Mixed Use Neighborhood Center

Coventry Special Assessment Area

Proposed Park

Flex Space

Creedmore Mixed Use / Conditional Use Area

Open space / community garden


An argument for mixed-use and flex space zoning In these hard economic times cities and planning commissions are constantly looking at ways to revitalize and invigorate existing neighborhoods within their jurisdiction. Whether you are aware of it or not, mixed-use has been around for a very long time. One only has to look at “main street” America to get a glimpse of how this can look. In many older American towns and neighborhoods, citizens and business owners have been combining land uses for two centuries. Any time you have a building that combines 2 or more land use types, you have mixed use. While this may have been coincidental in the past, planners and city councils are looking to the past for lessons on the future. Traditionally when people think of mixed use, they think of the classic Americana version of a two to three story building with a barber shop and corner store on the first level, and then perhaps offices and residential units on the upper floors. While this may serve some purposes, the world we find ourselves in today requires a little more imagination and ingenuity. One of the ways municipalities are tackling this challenge is by creating “flex-use” zones. These areas are basically mixed use areas, however the flex comes in to play when you allow more than 2 land uses, and allow these new uses specifically in an area that has an established motif, or if you are trying to create a new landscape for businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs. By allowing for a combination of land uses on a single parcel, you are adapting your zoning restrictions in order to accommodate a diversity of uses. Of course these new zoning areas may not always receive a warm welcome. Often areas that seem to be leaning towards the necessity of mixed use, are actually at war with themselves. Often times a new business will move into a predominantly residential neighborhood and perhaps create a nuisance. While city leaders may want to encourage new business, they don’t want to anger existing residents. By utilizing a public participation process, city leaders can identify neighborhoods of transition, or areas they would like to see change, and work from the ground up on creating public support by explaining the benefits of flex zoning, for business reasons, and the viability of the neighborhood as a whole. Instead of industrial/commercial/retail buildings being placed ad hoc throughout a neighborhood, or at its fringe, the city planner can now create a zone of flex use that combines these uses into buildings that represent high design standards and seek to agglomerate these disparate uses into a unique neighborhood section. •

Key elements to achieving a successful mixed use zone include: Incentives and restrictions which encourage and require certain uses at specific locations. These uses may not normally be pursued through market forces, however, their importance is considered vital to the neighborhood and seen as a community asset. This may include incentive bonuses, displacement / replacement mitigations, etc… which support mixed-use.

Agreements within the neighborhood that ensure a reasonable level of compatibility between different land uses and strive to minimize noise and nuisance complaints.

Policies which encourage the development of a built environment whose design standards and configurations allow for a certain flexibility and combination of land uses. This may include necessary street improvements and right-of-way requirements including entry points, drop-off zones and appropriate access routes.


Neighborhood design example

• The Creedmore Neighborhood represents a unique cross-section of the diversity of the built environment found all over Barberton • Through the years an assortment of various buildings have evolved to alter the land use from the original zoning ordinances •By creating a mixed use / conditional use district the city would be encouraging greater density, reducing auto dependency, promoting walking and bicycle use, as well as promoting a sense of community •This additional zoning / land use system could be combined with current redevelopment initiatives and the creation of Special Zoning Districts

A special district is a zoning district which imposes special supplemental and zoning regulations for the use and development of land within such districts where there are unique cultural, historic, and physical characteristics that positively contribute to the city’s diversity and livability. These supplemental zoning regulations are intended to reduce conflicts between new construction and existing development. They apply in addition to existing zoning regulations. Source: City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance, Article 5, Section 5.15-1


•The area between Coventry and Wooster Roads could benefit from further study on how to deal with the various issues and questions this area brings up. •The creation of a special assessment area could lead to innovative design and land use proposals and ideas through a public input / developer input process. •This area could also be converted into a mixed use / flex space area if the study conclusions and public support it.

Questions Raised: •How to increase accessibility and safety in regards to the towpath trailhead? •If redevelopment occurs, do we want to maintain a higher density with a commercial mix? Photo Courtesy of Julie Smith David

•Redevelop as townhouses at the multi-family or two family level with high design standards and an emphasis on sustainability and community •Possible development ideas could include abandoning Coventry Road thus creating more open space / backyard area •Creation of a recycled material sound barrier to protect residents from industrial and rail noise nuisances •An emphasis on walkability with a possible connection to the tow-path trailhead.


Rockwell represents the real meat and potatoes of our plan and should be addressed through a phased approach to development incorporating public participation and involvement. Proposals Include: •Convert Rockwell into a residential neighborhood with a mixed-use neighborhood center on the north-west corner that incorporates a public plaza.

Photo Courtesy of Gamma-Ray Productions

•Retain current industrial buildings south of old B&G plant in Rockwell in order to create a flex use area. •This area could include an Industrial Incubator to assist and attract new businesses to the area. •Some buildings could be used for Art/Craft Studios featuring a higher intensity industrial type use.


•Maintain existing open space in between Rockwell and proposed park to allow for community open space and perhaps a community garden.

•Create a park on the east end of Rockwell where current forest area exists.

•Possible “rails-to-trails” scenario with the Barberton Belt-line within study area.


Real Estate Conclusions •

Stop existing decline in property values through continued use of CDBG funds to deal with blighted areas as well as supporting neighborhood improvement initiatives that serve to enhance property maintenance and renovation.

The focus on existing residential construction should be to improve the physical condition. – – – – – –

Down Payment Incentives. Home Rehab Loans / Home Improvements. Insulation / Windows / Doors grants. Purchase incentives for owner-occupied. Lower Utility Rates. Magic City Shopping Center.

Real-Estate Strengths within Study Area – – – – – – –

Low existing property tax rates. New schools with good ratings. Buyer’s Market. Sense of Place – great history. Pride of ownership. Quick access to Interstate. Varied housing types.


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Sometimes addressing vacant parcels and blighted areas requires creative thinking, public involvement, and innovative design solutions.

Connecting Neighborhood Block Park

Lot Expansion

Rain Garden It is important to remember that these areas require a great deal of public and homeowner involvement to be successful, perhaps necessitating the creation of neighborhood improvement organizations

Design Drawings Courtesy of: Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative


Conclusion •

Effective & insightful codes will enable future growth to occur in designated areas and with desirable sustainability aspects.

Update existing zoning regulations and develop a 30 -40 page form based code document that combines land use with zoning ordinances and enables developers, homeowners, and the general public to understand and utilize these resources.

Key areas such as Rockwell, and other underutilized open-space areas will play a large role in future development possibilities.

Continue razing older dwellings beyond their economic life and enticing the market with incentives for quality new construction – possibly combining parcels for multi-family uses.

Continued improvement in school ratings will also increase demand for dwellings and increase property values over time.


Land Use Section of the Barberton Neighborhood Plan 2011