© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Akron City Council considers new zoning code for Merriman Valley, Schumacher Area

map of Merriman Valley and Schumacher area
Farr Associates
Akron City Council is considering changing the zoning code in the Merriman Valley and Schumacher Area.

Akron City Council is considering changing the zoning code in the Merriman Valley and Schumacher Area neighborhoods. The city's proposed new zoning code would be a form-based code, which the city planner said promotes affordable housing, helps small businesses and encourages walkability.

The new code aligns with residents' goal of preserving green space in the valley, according to planners and Preserve the Valley, the citizen coalition that initiated talks about the changes in zoning.

Instead of focusing on the use of land, form-based code focuses on the character and layout of the community and accessibility. For example, in form-based code, shops would be moved closer to the street to make it easier for pedestrians and those using public transportation to access them. The proposed code is based on the Merriman Valley Schumacher Area Master Plan, which was released in conjunction with Cuyahoga Falls last year but created by residents.

A picture of a gray day in the Merriman Valley looks down a busy commercial street with a Dollar General and other businesses far away from the sidewalk.
Councilmembers look at a presentation on Oct. 23, 2023, comparing zoning in the Merriman Valley now to what it could be under a form based code.

"We're taking a proactive vision here," city planner Daniel DeAngelo said. "We're saying this is what we want the Merriman Valley to be, instead of reacting to whatever a developer comes in and says they want to build."

The current zoning code is more than 100 years old and in need of an update, DeAngelo said.

"Today we're trying to address things like sustainability, housing affordability, equity," DeAngelo said. "Those things weren't really at the forefront of the discussion back in 1922."

DeAngelo warned that changes in the valley won't happen overnight.

"It's a 20 or 25-year vision," DeAngelo said. "It's not going to happen tomorrow, but it is going to happen over time as property owners decide to redevelop their land, they will be required to meet the zoning code."

Councilmember Tara Mosley said she's eager to see form-based code be implemented in other neighborhoods in the city.

"After 100 years, change is good," Mosley said, "but I hope it doesn't take 100 years to get to the other parts of the city."

Councilmember Sharon Connor said she's concerned about the city's noise ordinance needs clarity so much proposed mixed-use space in the plan.

"With so much mixed-use, noise ordinance is currently 9 o'clock in residential, 10 o'clock in commercial," Connor said, "but if we keep doing all this mixed-use, is it going to be 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock?"

Council will continue to consider the plan in a future session.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.