Zoning Department History
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE AUSTINTOWN ZONING DEPARTMENT
By: Michael P. Kurilla, Jr., MA, Zoning Inspector
On July 28, 1947, the Board of Austintown
Township Trustees adopted a resolution declaring the Board’s “intent to
proceed” with the adoption of a Township Zoning Ordinance. At that meeting,
Township Trustee W.J. Shively, Myron DeHoff and Gaylord Evans appointed
the following residents as members of the first Township Zoning Commission:
H.L. Leepard; Tom Mozzy; J.F. Blaemire; Edward J. Beil; and S.H. Gwynn.
Between the months of July –August, 1948, the Trustees and the Zoning Commission
worked with two (2) professional drafters, Mr. Reed and Mr. Gould, in the
preparation of the first Township Zoning Map. During this period, the Board
and Commission members also worked on a draft Zoning Ordinance text. Township
minutes record that Mr. Reed and Mr. Gould submitted an invoice for $436.05
for drafting services in the preparation of the Zoning Map.
On August 30, 1948, a final Trustee’s public hearing was conducted at the Township Fire Station, at which time resident/property owner testimony was received and a series of motions were adopted by the Board concerning the boundaries of the zoning districts to be voted on by the community. At the conclusion of the August 30 public hearing, the Trustees adopted a motion to adopt the zoning resolutions of the Zoning Commission, and submit the following Resolution to the county Board of Elections: “Shall the zoning plan adopted by the Zoning Commission and accepted by the Trustees of Austintown Township, be adopted and approved?” Zoning was adopted and established in Austintown Township by an affirmative vote of the electorate at the November 2, 1948 general election, with a total of 2,441 votes cast—1,962 in favor and 479 opposed to the Resolution.
The first Zoning Ordinance/Township Zoning Map adopted by the Board of Trustees and approved by the voters created six (6) zoning districts: Agricultural District; Residence R-1 District; Residence R-2 District; Residence R-3 District; Business District; Industrial District. By contrast, some 50 years later through the amendment process, the current Zoning Ordinance as amended through May 27, 2007 contains eleven (11) districts: Agricultural A-SER; Residence R-1; Residence R-2; Residence R-3; Residence R-4; Business B-1; Business B-2; Business B-3; Industrial I-1; and Industrial I-2. The first Zoning Ordinance text was a basic, short book containing seven (7) pages; whereas, the current Ordinance text is very detailed and technical, containing 72 pages. Major amendments, actual text changes, to the Zoning Ordinance book occurred in the following years: 1950, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1971, 1979, 1984, 1993, 2000,and 2007. Subjects addressed by the most recent amendments in 2000 and 2007 include the regulation of Adult Entertainment/Sexually Oriented Business establishments; Riparian Setbacks; and Erosion and Sediment Control.
The first Township Board of Zoning Appeals was appointed by the Township Trustees in January, 1949, with the following residents appointed as members: H.L. Leepard, Donald J. O’Hara; Russell Donahue; C.E. Athey; James Casino; and Charles W. Helman, Clerk. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Leepard resigned, with Harry S. Hood appointed to fill his vacancy. During the first year of hearing cases in 1949, the Township Zoning Commission heard 16 cases at public hearing, while the Board of Zoning Appeals heard 24 cases
There have been eight (8) individuals appointed by the Board of Trustees to serve in the position of Zoning Inspector between 1949-2008:
|Harmon Brobst||January, 1949||to||March, 1949|
|Charles W. Helman||March, 1943||to||January, 1950|
|Conrad J. Wem||January, 1950||to||January, 1951|
|S. Howard Gwynn||January, 1951||to||January, 1953|
|John D. Sirbu||January, 1953||to||August, 1958|
|Leah C. Davis (Acting)||August, 1958|
|George P. Stahlman||September, 1958||to||July, 1962|
|Leah C. Davis||July, 1962||to||December, 1981|
|Michael P. Kurilla, Jr.||January, 1982||to||Present|
The face of the community and geography of
Austintown changed from a rural, sparsely populated Township at the time
zoning was enacted in 1949, which most of the 1310 townships in the State
of Ohio remain today; to an urban, densely populated Township in 2008, ranking
in the top ten of Ohio Townships. Board of Trustees have tracked the growth
patterns in the Township by using the Zoning Department records, specifically
the permits issued for new dwelling units, business and industrial projects.
Zoning permit records also record the estimated valuation of new construction
completed on an annual basis.
An Eastgate Development and Transportation Agency (EDATA) Housing Study published in January, 1978 estimated that at the time zoning was enacted in Austintown Township in 1949, there were approximately 2,000 existing single family housing units in place. During the first fifteen (15) years that zoning records were kept (1949-1964), modest, incremental growth occurred in the Township:
The primary catalyst in Austintown changing
from a rural to an urban community was the single family housing construction
boom which occurred in the decade between 1960-1970.
The 1978 EDATA housing study recorded statistics for a four-county
geographic area including Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, and Ashtabula
counties. This study pointed to the fact that between 1960-1970, Austintown
Township had the highest percentage of housing units constructed
of any minor civil division in the four- county region. Austintown had the
second lowest percentage of persons over the age of 65 years;
and recorded a total population increase of 58% in this
decade. Also recorded in this decade of growth was the beginning phase of
the 25 acre Western Reserve Industrial Park, located on Victoria Road, north
of Mahoning Avenue; and a multi-dwelling development trend of several large
scale apartment complexes started and continued through the close of the
decade. Austin Arms, Wedgewood Apartments, Canterbury Commons, Greenbriar
Manors, Fountain Square, and Central Park West were apartment complexes
developed along major thoroughfares in the Township. With respect to commercial
retail growth, the Austintown Plaza started construction in 1958 and continued
in this decade, with the Wedgewood Plaza started in 1961.
The residential housing trend returned to primarily the development of single family dwelling units in the 1970;s with a second significant single family housing boom occurring in the 1990’s. Home Builder Association (HBA) statistics record Austintown Township as being the “lead community” for single family dwelling starts for a decade, spanning the ten (10) year period of 1993-2002. Between 1990-2001, 1,492 single family dwelling permits were issued, with the peak year being 1998, when 187 single family dwelling permits were issued. During the 1998 construction season, fifteen (15) single family dwelling subdivision plats were under construction, with three (3) planned unit development condominium plats under construction.
At the close of 2007, the following residential housing statistics were
compiled by the Zoning Office:
|Total Dwelling Units||17,158|
|Single Family Units||12,437|
In addition to the Austintown housing market
being a hotbed of residential activity during the 1990’s; a noticeable trend
in the expansion of the business retail market has occurred during the past
five (5) year period, 2003-2007; with $66 million in valuation recorded
for new business retail construction starts or additions. Calendar year
2007 recorded an all time high business valuation of $ 23.3 million. The
following new business starts were constructed during this past five (5)
year period, significantly changing the face of the community and expanding
the retail business sector: Wal-Mart Superstore expansion; Harley-Davidson
of Austintown; Infocision Call Center expansion; 3 Walgreen Drugstores;
First Place Bank; Waffle House Restaurant; Austintown Plaza Strip plaza;
Home Depot; Austintown Ambulatory Center expansion; Family Video; St. Elizabeth
Emergency Room; Weston Center Plaza; Greenwood Hummer dealership; Victoria
House assisted living facility; GetGo Service Station; Shepherd of the Valley
Warehouse/office; Meander Inn Hospitality Motel; Bob Evans Restaurant; Popeyes
Chicken Restaurant; Pelican Park Strip Plaza; Austintown Chrysler dealership
expansion; Community Medical Partners professional office; Quaker Steak
and Lube restaurant; Belleria Pizza restaurant.
The Zoning Office was established as a two (2) person department, comprised of the Zoning Inspector and an assistant; which it remains in 2008. As stated in the Ohio Revised Code Section 519, the Board of Austintown Township Trustees adopted the original Zoning Resolution in order to “promote the health, safety, and morals” of the community. As each Board of Trustees amends the Zoning Ordinance to address changes and land development challenges in their time, a Township’s local zoning authority provides continuity in the orderly development and controlled growth of the community.
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