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Chapter 7: Implementation Strategies

 

This section of the Master Plan recommends specific actions to implement the policy and strategy recommendations of the Plan.

Council Adoption of Master Plan

Formal adoption of the recommended Master Plan by the Planning Commission and the City Council is a necessary first step for assuring the implementation of the recommended policies and strategies. City leadership should work to assure that the recommended Master Plan is adopted as soon as possible. The Master Plan should serve to guide the City’s land development decision making and should be a key reference for staff, appointed members of City commissions and committees, and the City’s elected officials. Specifically, the Master Plan should be consulted when development plans are proposed, when considering amendments to the City’s zoning code, and to determine priority capital improvement investments for the City.

To assure its relevance, the Master Plan should be reviewed periodically based on new information or changing conditions that affect development and land use in the community. The Master Plan can be amended if needed, and it is recommended that the Plan be updated every 5-10 years depending on the nature of economic conditions in the community and other unanticipated events that would warrant a reworking of the policy directions and strategies adopted.

 

Promote the Plan as a Decision Making Tool

Land use and development decisions are made by both private property owners and also public agencies that oversee publicly owned infrastructure and facilities. To that end, we recommend producing sufficient copies of the full Master Plan report to distribute at key locations around the City—such as the City Hall, the library, senior centers, and schools--for review by residents as needed. Further, sufficient copies of the full report should be maintained to share with private developers looking to develop property in the City or public agencies planning infrastructure or facility investments that will affect the character of the City.

The Master Plan represents a collective vision for the future of the community and should be shared in a summary form with all residents and businesses of the community. At minimum, an article should appear in the community’s newsletter that summarizes the Master Plan, its implications and the next steps for the City to implement. Further, the City should post the full Master Plan report on the City’s internet site. Finally, at the time of the Plan’s adoption, City officials should work with the local media to publicize the adoption of a new Master Plan designed to guide future development and infrastructure decision-making.

 

Strategies for Implementation

Typically, a City’s Zoning Code is a key tool for implementing the goals and objectives of a comprehensive land use plan. As the legal mechanism that guides planning and development, the City can look to the Zoning Code to influence new investment and development in the community in future years. However, since the City is nearly completely built out, redevelopment of existing areas through negotiation and the use of public incentives will be an equally important strategy for implementation of the recommended Plan for the City of Mayfield Heights.
To achieve the private investment and public amenities that are recommended in this master plan, the City has four basic strategies available to it:

1. Amend the Zoning Regulations: Zoning is applied to new development and rehabilitation projects in redevelopment areas and can achieve change by: 1) strengthening the regulations to require what the City desires; or 2) using zoning regulations to enable or entice desired development through zoning incentives. The City’s existing zoning would clearly benefit from a comprehensive review to assure that:
a. Districts: zoning districts should match the type of development desired for sub-areas;
b. Standards: “development standards,” i.e. the regulations that guide the form and density of development, should be updated where needed;
c. Amenities: desired amenities such as landscaping and quality design should be provided for; and
d. Process: provisions relating to design and development review should be explicit and adequate to provide for the quality of development desired.
2. Negotiate with Landowners: Working with landowners to achieve the type of development and public amenities that are desired for the community is another key strategy available to the City. City leadership has had ongoing negotiations with existing property owners as well as a continuing dialogue with private developers interested in redeveloping in the community. However, since developers can develop more cheaply in outlying (greenfield) sites, the City will likely need to commit public resources to achieve its development goals (as described below).
3. Local Government as Development Partner: Cities that want to assure that high priority development goals are achieved must consider committing their own financial resources to facilitate projects. Since land costs in developed areas are much higher than land costs in outlying areas, cities typically must consider taking steps to make development in their community more cost-effective thus becoming the public partner in a “public-private partnership.” Some examples of public financial tools that are available to cities include the following:
a. Paying for Public Infrastructure Costs: As development partners, cities can fund public infrastructure or other amenities to support the type of development desired. By funding from current revenues or issuing municipal debt for public improvements (i.e. cities borrow at lower interest rates than the rates available to private developers), cities can fund the gap that typically exists in project finance associated with urban redevelopment or infill projects. A common financial tool used by cities is “tax increment financing,” described in Appendix C to this report.
b. Property Tax Abatement: In “Community Reinvestment Areas,” up to 100 percent of real property tax can be abated for a maximum of fifteen years. In “Enterprise Zones,” up to 75 percent real and/or personal property taxes can be abated for up to ten years. The City of Mayfield Heights has already designated large portions of its commercial areas to take advantage of these strategies.
c. Land Acquisition and/or Writedown: Cities can proactively acquire land on the private market to use for public facilities or for future sale to private development partners willing to provide the quality/type of development desired in the community. As a backup strategy, cities can also acquire land through legal means to achieve desired redevelopment goals.
4. Providing Access to Other Funding Sources: Cities must fundraise from public and private sources to provide the needed revenues to support redevelopment projects. There are many federal, state and county grant programs as well resources available from foundations and related sources that are available to communities to support development goals, but they are competitive and require a commitment of staff resources to pursue. Appendix C provides a comprehensive list of the available funding sources that should be considered by Mayfield Heights as available to facilitate its redevelopment objectives.
 

Zoning Code Text and Map Review

As observed earlier in this report, the City’s Zoning Code dates back to the 1950s and has been amended over time to meet the evolving needs of the City. As referenced earlier, the City would benefit from a comprehensive review of its zoning regulations to assure that current regulations meet the City’s needs and are current with the Ohio Revised Code requirements. This section focuses on the recommended zoning changes that should be considered to achieve the recommendations of this master plan.
1. Residential Districts: Zoning changes that are supported include the following:
a. Permit the rezoning of the Ridgebury Avenue Corridor to allow smaller lot single-family home development (consistent with the area south of Ridgebury Ave.) as a way of providing “move up” housing. Consider zoning for lower density attached and cluster housing only for those areas where it will not be economically feasible to build traditional single-family home sites.
b. Consider modifications to existing development standards in the U1(1) Residential District to permit the modest expansion of existing homes without the need for zoning variances.
2. Office/Retail Districts: Zoning changes that are supported include the following:
a. Enhance the type of uses permitted in the office parks/areas to accommodate business support services.
b. Review the retail zoning districts permitted uses and consider a shift to performance based use list that would focus on the characteristics of the permitted uses rather than providing the lengthy list.
c. Look for places to mix uses – a large area District (Eastgate or Mayland) or smaller areas where a mix of uses would be appropriate.
d. Consider a corridor overlay district for the SOM Center Rd. commercial area or for Mayfield Rd. to coordinate land use with transportation investments and strategies.
e. Review parking standards as some of the parking requirements and related standards could be revised; expand shared parking and transit supportive aspects; alternatively, give the Planning Commission authority to relax the parking standards where warranted.
3. Landscaping: Current landscaping and buffering requirements apply only to office districts. Buffering and landscaping in retail areas, however, seems to be limited to what can be negotiated. Consider strengthening landscape and buffering requirements in retail districts. Additionally, the zoning code requires the construction of masonry walls for screening non-residential uses; landscaping regulations could perhaps be added to the masonry wall requirements.
4. Signage: Many, but not all, of the City’s sign provisions were updated in the 1990s. Review of signage regulations could identify opportunities for further improvement, in order to ensure that high quality, attractive signs continue to be installed.
5. Connectivity/Pedestrian Linkages and Enhancements: There are currently no regulations requiring the provision of pedestrian enhancements and connections between development projects. Consider requiring, or providing incentives for, the inclusion of pedestrian enhancements and connections between residential areas and recreational and commercial areas.
6. Architectural Design Review: The City should amend its Zoning Code to strengthen the role of the ARB and permit the adoption of “Design Guidelines” to guide decisions relating to the quality of commercial buildings. Design Guidelines provide a tool for communities in reviewing proposed developments to assure the character of desired developments and to encourage the thoughtful integration of redevelopment and new development into the community. Design Guidelines typically provide guidance on the following elements relating to architecture and construction:
• Building orientation
• Location of parking
• Connectivity and transition between land uses
• Vehicular and pedestrian access and circulation, street materials
• Building facades
• Building materials and color
• Windows and doors, awnings if desired
• Landscaping and screening requirements and materials
• Lighting
• Signage

The City should adopt language in the zoning code that requires that all new development projects or substantial rehabilitation projects comply with the design requirements that are adopted in the City’s “Design Guidelines.” The City could also provide zoning bonuses (such as density bonuses or relaxed parking requirements) to entice the type and quality of development that it desires.
 

Administrative Measures

Development Funding Sources and Strategies

In addition to reviewing and updating its zoning regulations, the City must use economic development strategies and pursue new private and public revenues to achieve its preferred development future. Since the costs of redevelopment in a built-up community are generally higher than the cost of new development on vacant land in outlying suburbs, the City must consider strategies that eliminate the financial differentials that make redevelopment less attractive than new development. The key in economic development is to be creative in bridging a gap for a development project, while minimizing financial risk to the community.
A comprehensive list of potential funding sources for development projects is provided in Appendix C, and some of the key funding sources and economic development strategies are described below.
• Infrastructure Investment: Public strategies to provide traditional infrastructure, such as sewer and water, and even non-traditional systems, such as fiber optic networks, are designed to enhance the quality of the community’s “investment climate” and can enhance a project’s feasibility. Working in tandem with specific development proposals, the City’s ability to fund (through grants, loans or directly with local source funds), or to raise capital for, the public facilities associated with new development could be the critical to “making or breaking” a private development project.
• Tax Increment Financing or TIF: Through the TIF mechanism, the new property tax revenues generated as part of a redevelopment project can be designated to pay for the public improvements associated with that development project. This is a strategy to capitalize on a new “stream of revenues” from the project that would not otherwise be available to the community had the development not occurred.
• Façade Rehabilitation Programs: Provides loans on favorable terms to business owners for interior and exterior renovations.
• Economic Development Grants and Loans: Numerous federal, state and County program funds are available to fund street improvements, bike routes, tree planting, greenspace acquisition and other activities for communities that are willing to compete. The current grant funding environment is competitive and requires a dedication of expert staff resources if communities hope to secure new outside sources of funds.
 

Create an Economic/Community Development Staff Position

As a regional economic center, with a considerable commercial tax base, the City should strongly consider hiring a key staff person to oversee and provide leadership on economic development. Key responsibilities of the Economic Development Director would include:
• Reviewing new developments proposed for the City and working with private developers and City officials to assure consistency with the Master Plan goals;
• Proactively promoting the redevelopment goals of the Master Plan by working with property owners in the Plan’s Focus Areas and recruiting private developers where needed to achieve the development patterns recommended for those focus areas;
• Communicating with the City’s businesses and regional business groups to assure retention of the City’s commercial base and attention to service needs;
• Representing the City’s development agenda to public agencies planning major infrastructure investments in the City; and
• Securing new sources of outside of funding (public and private) as well as assisting the City in the consideration of creative strategies for raising local funds through public/private partnerships, debt financing mechanisms, and other alternative approaches.
 

Capital Improvement Planning

To remain competitive, the City must maintain its infrastructure and systematically repair and/or undertake needed replacement/upgrades or capacity expansions. The City should consider strengthening its capital improvement programming mechanism as a way of being more strategic about the types and amount of capital improvements needed and how they are prioritized and funded.

Through the capital improvement programming effort, the City should also work to identify external sources of funding available to complement its existing locally available resources for infrastructure improvements and public enhancements (i.e. enhancements that are considered “non-traditional” infrastructure expenditures such as street trees, plaza development and streets aping elements). Ideally, the City would also identify a specific number of improvements annually that would facilitate redevelopment initiatives that are consistent with the Master Plan.