© 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 passes new zoning code for Merriman Valley, Schumacher Area

map of Merriman Valley and Schumacher area
Farr Associates
A map of the Merriman Valley and Schumacher Area shows what will be impacted by the new zoning code.

Akron City Council passed a new zoning code for the Merriman Valley and Schumacher Area Monday night. The vote changes the zoning code in the area to a form-based code, which advocates say will promote affordable housing, help small businesses and encourage walkability.

The new code comes after organizing from advocacy group Preserve the Valley calling for preservation of green space and more intentional development in the Merriman Valley, according to the group. Citizens gathered for several meetings to weigh in on what they want the future of the valley to look like, before Akron, in conjunction with Cuyahoga Falls, released the Merriman Valley Schumacher Area Master Plan. City planners said changing the zoning code is the best way to make the plan come to life.

Form-based code focuses on the character, layout and accessibility of a community, rather than land use, according to city planners. It will replace the current code, which is more than 100 years old, city planners said.

The change in the valley won't happen overnight, city planners warned, but rather, change will happen as properties are developed and new development projects begin. More education is needed to explain this to the public, Councilmember Shammas Malik said at a planning and economic development meeting last week.

"A lot of people see some of the renderings and think the city's actually going to be building some of these properties, or they're not sure what to think," he said. "And I think we've tried to be very clear that we're setting the ground rules by which as private property owners make future land use decisions that that will then govern their conduct."

Several members of council said they are eager to see this public input process and new zoning code be implemented in other parts of the city.

"I do think it was a model for working with the community and also working with a nearby jurisdiction in Cuyahoga Falls," Malik, who represents Ward 8 which includes the Merriman Valley, said.

Malik and other councilmembers spoke for the same level of process and citizen engagement throughout the city, as they begin to look at implementing form based code in other neighborhoods.

"This truly is a model of good process and the stick-to-it-iveness of folks who care deeply about the planet, about our raw resources here that worked very hard to have their voices heard," Ward 1 Councilmember Nancy Holland, whose district also encompasses the valley, said.

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