Developers take heed: If you want to build a superstore in North Olmsted, OH, you better pay attention to what the voters did last week. By an overwhelming vote of 87%, North Olmsted voters passed Issue 13, which adds a new requirement that every rezoning issue submitted to voters by initiative or referendum petition will not pass unless a majority of people living in the ward or wards targeted for a rezoned property approve it, along with a majority of voters citywide. Issue 13 was placed on the ballot by Mayor Norm Musial. The new ordinance means that developers eager to use the ballot to overturn a vote by City Council not to rezone land, would have to do some serious good will work in the neighborhood where their project is located — because if they can’t convince the neighbors in that ward of the benefit of the rezoning, they lose the project. This North Olmsted ordinance is similar to others spreading across Ohio. In towns like Seven Hills, Westlake, Garfield-Heights, and Strongsville, such referendum ordinances are already on the books. In Seven Hills, for example, any changes proposed in zoning classification, whether passed by the City Council or by Initiative Petition, must be approved by voters citywide and in the affected wards. These zoning ordinances obviously give local residents greater leverage over voters, and put much more home rule power in the hands of the voters. Such ordinances are very effective zoning tools to prevent inappropriately-scaled projects that prove unpopular with local voters. The North Olmsted vote was 1,392 in favor of the new restrictions, and 208 against. This is the same community that stopped a developer from building a Home Depot on one side of town, but let a Home Depot proceed in a mall location.
For further information on these Ohio zoning ordinances, contact sprawl-busters at: [email protected]