Economic Development

Community Development

Bridget Susel, Director

930 Overholt Road                                      
Kent, OH 44240                                                                                                                     





                       COMPREHENSIVE ZONING CODE REVIEW        


Below is a narrative on the process the City has followed for the comprehensive view of the Kent City Coning Code. 


To review all chapters of the Zoning Code that have been revised, please click on the link below.   Additionally,  information sheets have been developed to answer some of the most common questions.



 Summary of Changes / Revisions / Additions to the Proposed Zoning Code Update


Starting in the Fall of 2008, the City began a comprehensive review of its Zoning Code.   Many of you have been involved in one or more meetings since that time where we have reviewed and discussed parts of the zoning code by topic.  The last comprehensive update to the zoning code was started in the late 1970’s and culminated with the adoption of a new zoning code in 1985.  There have been a number of amendments to the zoning code since that time.  Much of the current zoning code is rooted in the conventional thought of the 1970’s (or prior to that) so it is important that the City evaluate, modify and even supplement the zoning code so that it can best reflect the current needs, goals and objectives of Kent.  The code also needs to reflect contemporary land uses, operations and concerns that may not have been present even ten years ago.  As such, the review and update is both timely and necessary.   The following points summarize what has been done to this point and our proposed direction for the future with regard to this undertaking:

 1.         Staff has prepared drafts of the affected zoning code chapters that directly relate to what has been discussed so far.  Each of the chapters are summarized in the second portion of this communication.

 2.         After a period of open public comment, staff hopes to be able to finalize changes to the enclosed Chapters and then move them through the formal zoning amendment process over the next 2-3 months. 

 3.         Eventually, all of the sections of the zoning text and zoning map will be reviewed as time permits.

Summary of Changes / Comments (By Chapter)

 Formatting / Graphics

Page numbering will be done by chapter so that if future chapters, sections or pages are added, the entire numbering of the document will not have to be re-done.  We are hoping to be able to include hypertext links within the entire document to allow quick and easy navigation between linked terms and sections but this is still work in progress and will not be completed until the various sections are ultimately adopted by ordinance.

Chapter 1101 – Title, Interpretation and Conflict

Currently Numbered as Chapter 1107.  No major changes.

Chapter 1103 – Definitions

Currently Numbered as Chapter 1109.  While many of the definitions from the previous code have been maintained or slightly modified, there have been a number of changes and additions made to this chapter.  Most of the definitions pertaining to specific types of signs have been moved to the Chapter related to signage so that the reader does not have to flip back and forth between chapters.  Definitions related to some of the other proposed Chapters have been added or modified to reflect some of the content in those chapters.  To the degree possible, wording used in conjunction with permitted and conditionally permitted uses will be tied to the definitions and terms listed in this Chapter.

Commentary:  The definitions have not been lettered or numbered as subsections and can be referred to by name rather than by section number.

Chapter 1105 – Administration and Enforcement

 Currently Numbered as Chapter 1111.  There were no major changes to this Chapter other than the reference to the Civil Infraction enforcement process in Section 1105.12.

 Commentary:  None.

 Chapter 1107 – Conditional Zoning Certificates and Specially Permitted Uses

 Currently Numbered as Chapter 1113.  There were several changes made to this  chapter worth noting.  One set of changes to the Application Procedures (1107.02) section provides the Community Development Department with the specific authority to request additional information from the applicant AND for the Planning Commission to do the same.  An incomplete submission at the time of application may be rejected by staff.  There is also reference added to the Architectural Review process and the need to submit a copy of the Certificate of Appropriateness issued as approval from the Architectural Review Board at the time of application.  The other significant change to this Chapter extends the Planning Commission approval period to two (2) years instead of the current approval period of one (1) year.

 Commentary:  The additional wording with regard to application procedures has been updated to reflect current practice being used by staff in receiving applications.  Some flexibility in this regard is practical but the ability to reject incomplete submittals is also necessary in dealing with applicants who attempt to submit incomplete information.  With references to the Design Review process included, Chapters 1120 and 1121, as well as the Design Guidelines (enforcement version) need to be adopted concurrently.

Chapter 1109 – Board of Zoning Appeals

Currently Numbered as Chapter 1115.  This proposed chapter is very similar to the existing Chapter 1115 with regard to content, with only several notable changes.  Reference is made in Section 1109.09 (d) to other duties and responsibilities that the Board may have which are outside of the zoning code and have been assigned through ordinance.   

Chapter 1111 – Zoning Amendments

Currently Numbered as Chapter 1117.  This chapter is also very similar to the existing chapter related to zoning amendments.  There were no significant changes.

Chapter 1113 – Site Plan Review

 Currently Numbered as Chapter 1119.  There were several significant changes to the Site Plan Review process.  The first of these concerned establishing two different procedures for site plan review relating to “minor” projects and “major” projects.  This is being proposed pursuant to some of the discussions with the joint committee where we discussed the idea of looking at two different review tracks, one for lesser projects and one for more significant projects.  To this end we attempted to define the “minor” projects based on size of building, smaller parking lot additions, minor driveway or curb cut relocations, all of which would be conditioned on the premise that the construction is not closer than 50 feet to an abutting residential property.  Our thinking is that by defining a “minor” project in this way, we can still address technical issues through internal staff review on projects that are not necessarily contentious without having to run those projects through the more extensive public meeting / notification process.  This becomes the real question – whether these reviews should be internalized without opportunity for public comment.  In addition to defining what is minor and major, the respective application and review procedures are spelled out as well.

The Site Plan Review process was also modified to respect the requirements of the Design Review Process and the review to be conducted by the Architectural Review Board where such review is applicable to a project.  As with Conditional Uses, we have also extended the approval period from one to two years and have included the provision of using the Civil Infraction process as an enforcement mechanism for site plan violations.

Chapter 1119 – Home Based Businesses

This is a New Chapter.  With this Chapter we have included the requirements related to the existing two versions of Home Based Businesses into a single zoning code chapter.  Both the Limited Home Business and the more extensive Home Occupation are addressed in this Chapter, along with their definitions, regulations and operations.  We cleaned up some of the wording found in the current code, especially as it relates the amount of floor area that a home occupation can occupy in a residential structure.  While we maintained the number of people outside of the household that could work at the home occupation (this is currently 1), we did provide wording that would allow the Planning Commission to increase this number if the applicant could show that the increase would not adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood.  We also created a similar provision allowing the Planning Commission to consider use of accessory structures for home occupations at its discretion.

Chapter 1120 – Architectural Design Review

Chapter 1121 – Architectural Design Review Overlay Districts

Design Guidelines (Appendix A)

 These are New Chapters.  These Chapters establish the actual review process for projects in designated Design Overlay Districts (identified in Chapter 1121) for compliance with the Design Guidelines (Appendix A) applicable to the Overlay District (if any) in which the project is located.  The review process spells out the procedure for review by the Architectural Review Board and refers to the Guidelines adopted.  Both Chapters were set up with allowing for the possibility that there could be more than one overlay district and each overlay district could have different guidelines, although as currently proposed, there is only one overlay district covering the downtown and the immediate West River area.  The chapters will also reference the approved Design Guidelines which we expect to be somewhat modified (from the original version) for enforcement purposes.

For the first time, the Architectural Review Process will be separated from the review authority of the City’s Planning Commission and create a process where the Architectural Review Board has autonomy and can act in reference to actual written guidelines.  Application fees and submission requirements are defined in Chapter 1120 as well as review procedures.

 Chapter 1122 – Rooming and Boarding Houses

This is a new Chapter.  All the regulations pertaining to Rooming and Boarding Houses have been combined into a single chapter.  This too will allow the reader to understand all the requirements for such uses without having to flip back and forth between various sections of the zoning code.

The changes to the regulations are significant in regard to defining households and determining household status.  This reduces the dependence of defining such uses on the basis of familial relationships and puts more of the emphasis on defining the specific factors defining the characteristics of persons living together as a single, more permanent household compared to those who are more short-term or transient in nature.  This change is especially important for enforcement purposes and in defining legal versus illegal uses.

The chapter also attempts to identify more practical dimensional requirements (lot size, open space) for these uses based on size of operation and existing elements both on the property and adjacent to the property with regard to open space and the Planning Commission is given some latitude to determine what is adequate in regard to open space rather than having to abide by hard numbers that were often impossible to satisfy and almost always required variances.

The requirements for parking are also better defined with regard to location, number of spaces required and setback from property lines.  The size and layout of parking spaces is addressed and front yard parking spaces are prohibited since they can produce some of the most blighting factors seen with such uses. 

Reference is also made to the Environmental Housing Code (as it exists) which is enforced by the Health Department.

Commentary:  The major revisions to Zoning Code proposed herein do not constitute changes to the licensing of these units.  The current regulations in the Environmental Housing Code still apply as would any future revisions.  Staff has discussed with Council and the Joint Zoning Committee the concept of attempting to broaden and expand the rental licensing requirements to all rental properties and this possibility will continue to be evaluated.  Staff hopes to bring some proposals back to Council to consider, most likely in 2011.  The changes also do not modify which districts these uses are allowed in from what is currently in place.

Chapter 1165 – Signage

Appendix B – Sign Design Guidelines

 No change in Chapter Numbering.  Numerous, significant changes to the current sign regulations are proposed in this draft.  Definitions for various types of signage have been moved to this Chapter from the Chapter on Definitions (1103).  The proposed chapter also creates much more detail in both general and specific requirements for signs, including temporary signs.

 The proposed chapter also introduces the concept of a Comprehensive Sign Plan.   The Comprehensive Sign Plan would be more applicable to larger scale, multiple tenant properties where the traditional number and size of signage may not be practical.  Rather than have such proposals go through a zoning variance process, where such decisions are made on the basis of hardship or practical difficulty demonstrated by the applicant, the Comprehensive Sign Plan process allows the Planning Commission to consider larger, more numerous sign packages for a site based on scale and design.  This should give business interests and property managers more flexibility in designing sign packages for a site while at the same time giving the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board the ability to review the proposed package with more flexibility to modify and work with changes.  This should prove to be more effective in obtaining more aesthetic signage in scale with the property than was previously the case by running such cases through the Board of Zoning Appeals for variances.

There are a number of other changes too numerous to summarize here.  We have also created Appendix B which contains proposed design guidelines for signage.  These proposed sign design guidelines were developed with the overall Design Guidelines in mind along with some additional standards and detail. 

 The sign design guidelines as we propose them would be applicable to the entire City to the extent feasible but we would also recommend that they be mandatory within any designated Design Overlay District.

To our knowledge, this is the first attempt by the City to emphasize design related criteria to signage.

Concluding Remarks

This summary is a relatively brief overview of the changes proposed in relation to what currently exists in the present zoning code.  It should provide the reader with some perspective on the direction of the changes and highlight some of those changes that staff considers significant.  We do encourage interested persons to take the time to read the individual chapters in detail since they may find things that they consider significant that we did not highlight.




Below is the information that has been  been previously distributed during this process.  By clicking on the date, summary minutes are available for viewing.


(October 21, 2008)

   Current Zoning Chapters   


(November 18,  2008)

Proposed Unified Development Code

Responsibilities of Plan. Comm. and BZA

Existing Zoning Chapters


(December 16, 2008)

UDC Definitions

Existing Zoning Code Chapters

Staff Commentary


(January 2009)



(February 17, 2009)


Rooming and Board Houses


(March 17, 2009)

April 7, 2009


Rooming and Board Houses


April 21, 2009


Comprehensive Rental licenses


May 19, 2009


Open Space Requirements


JUNE 16, 2009

Current sign regulations (COK Chapter 1165)

UDC- Signage

Obetz Ohio Sign ordinance


AUGUST 18, 2009


Architectural Design Standards

UDC - Architectural Review


NOVEMBER 17, 2009


Architectural Design Review Overlay District


DECEMBER 15, 2009

Draft Chapter - Design Overlay District

Draft Chapter - Architectural Design Review


February 16, 2010

Proposed revisions to Chapter 1165

Guide to Revisions for Chapter 1165


March 16, 2010

Presentation on Proposed

Downtown Development

August 10, 2010 Review of draft chapters1101, 1103, 1107, 1109, 1111, 1113, and 1121


September 14, 2010 Review of Draft Chapters 1119, 1120, 1121, 1122, 1165 and Appendix B
Oct. 5, 2010 Review of Draft 1165 and revised Design Guidelines
March 15, 2011


Residential Redevelopment Interim Overlay District & Map
July 19, 2011
Review of Draft Chapters 1133, 1135, 1137, 1139, and 1141