The planning division works in conjunction with the board of zoning appeals, the planning commission, city council, and administration to formulate, establish, and administrate land use policy and zoning and subdivision regulations.
Through short and long-range planning, the division acts to secure the logical, sound, and economical development of the city, and to protect property and community values. It also investigates complaints concerning alleged violations of the zoning code and undertakes compliance proceedings which are appropriate to resolve each specific situation wherein a violation may exist. Learn more about how the commission and board work with the city to ensure proper planning occurs.
The City of Cuyahoga Falls Planning Commission was originally adopted under Article VIII, Section 1 of the Cuyahoga Falls City Charter in 1960. The commission consists of seven members; six who are appointed by the mayor with the consent of a majority of the members of city council, and one member selected by city council. Mayoral appointments to the commission are for a six-year terms and are staggered. The term of the city council appointee may not exceed two years. No commission member may be an employee of the city or hold any other municipal office.
Ohio statutes generally delegate the initiation of planning policy to planning commissions, consisting mostly or entirely of lay citizens. As a charter city, Article VIII Section 1.5 of the charter provides for a planning commission whose general charge includes the formulation of comprehensive and functional plans and studies, review of subdivisions, recommendations on zoning map and text capital projects.
Growing out of the governmental reform tradition of the early twentieth century, it was assumed planning commissions could provide a broader and longer range perspective than the local legislators. It was thought that legislators might operate from too limited a time perspective to be good planners, and needed the steadying hand of a statesmanlike independent commission.
The powers and jurisdiction the commission may exercise is described in Article VIII in Section 1.5 of the city charter and further refined in the city’s zoning code and subdivision regulations. In general, the power of the commission is limited to:
- Reviewing and recommending to city council on legislation changes regarding the city subdivision regulations, zoning code, and map.
- Approval or disapproval of site plans pursuant to the zoning code.
- Approval or disapproval of conditionally permitted uses.
- The subdivision of land.
- The vacation and dedication of streets and alleys, changes in the official city setback map and other functions as may be assigned.
In addition to changes in the zoning code and map, the commission may hold public hearings and report to the council on the following matters.
Site Plan Review
In certain zoning districts where the uses permitted are of a nature because of their size, scale or effect on surrounding property, a review of specific plans by the planning commission is deemed necessary to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community.
In its review, the commission may consider the location of buildings, parking areas and other features with respect to the topography of the lot and existing natural features such as streams and large trees; the efficiency, adequacy, and safety of the proposed layout of internal streets and driveways; the location of the green area provided, the adequacy of the landscaping and screening of the parking lots; and such other matters as the commission may find to have a material bearing upon the plan.
The commission must act on a site plan within sixty (60) days. An approved plan is valid for a period of twenty-four (24) months from the date of its approval. All site plan approvals are submitted to city council for final approval.
Conditionally Permitted Uses
It is recognized in the zoning code that certain kinds of uses because of their size or unique character need to be reasonably controlled by specific requirements that provide practical latitude for the investor, but at the same time, maintain adequate provision for the protection of the health, safety, convenience, comfort, prosperity, or general welfare of the community’s inhabitants. Land uses designated as conditionally permitted are permitted through the issuance of a Conditional Zoning Certificate with conditions and safeguards attached as may be deemed necessary for the protection of the public welfare.
Examples of conditionally permitted uses include the following:
- A church or school in a single family residential zoning district
- An institution for medical care, such as a hospital in an apartment zoning district.
- A retail shopping complex in excess of 10,000 square feet in a general commercial zoning district.
- A gasoline service station in a highway service commercial zoning district.
- A cellular communications tower in an industrial district.
It is the commission’s responsibility to insure the intended use is safe and in harmony with surrounding uses and to propose conditions to insure the compatibility and safety of the intended use.
Subdivision of Land
The subdivision of land is regulated by the subdivision regulations chapters 1111 through 1119 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Cuyahoga Falls. The subdivision of land is classified as either a minor or major subdivision. A minor subdivision may be approved by the city planning director, whereas a major subdivision must be approved by the planning commission and city council.
To qualify as a minor subdivision the following criteria must be met:
- The division is along an existing street and does not involve the opening, widening or extensions of any street.
- City water and sewer or an approved alternative are available.
- Both the created and residual parcel meet zoning code requirements.
- No more than two lots are involved .
Upon a determination by the city planning director that the minor subdivision criteria are met and submission of the required documents as specified in C.O. 1145.03, the planning director may approve the minor subdivision and stamp the conveyance approved by the City of Cuyahoga Falls Planning Commission.
A major subdivision is defined as any subdivision not meeting the requirements of a minor subdivision. A major subdivision is approved in two stages, preliminary plat and final plat, both by the planning commission and city council.
Preliminary Plat: The preliminary plat stage requires the subdivider to present all information needed to enable the planning commission to determine that the proposed layout is satisfactory and shall serve the public interest. This stage also ensures that the subdivider will not be required to expend extensive monies without some assurance that his plat shall be finally approved.
Final Plat: The final plat stage requires the subdivider to present all data needed to enable the planning commission to determine that the subdivision fully complies with these regulations and conforms to the approved preliminary plat. After acceptance of all streets, highways, or other public ways or open space by council, the plat may be recorded.
For a more detailed explanation of the major subdivision process, one should review the City of Cuyahoga Falls Subdivision Regulations Chapters 1111 through 1119.
Street Dedications & Vacations
The planning commission also acts in an advisory role to city council when streets are proposed for dedication of extensions or vacations, or when the official street setback is requested to be changed.
The planning commission application must be completed and signed and submitted to the planning department along with a check made payable to the City of Cuyahoga Falls. The fee is stipulated on the planning commission application. Points to consider when filing your application:
- Twenty folded site plans must be submitted along with the application, if applicable.
- A copy of the site plan requirements may be obtained from our office.
- All on-site utilities and site work must conform to City of Cuyahoga Falls standards and be inspected by the engineering department.
- At least two weeks is required for staff preparation of the planning commission request. Three weeks prior to the meeting day is the deadline for accepting applications.
- The applicant will be mailed notification of the meeting date. It is important for the applicant and/or his (her) representative to be present at the planning commission meeting.
- The city will notify the ward councilperson, the pertinent city departments and, if applicable, property owners within 200 feet, as in the case of a rezoning request.
The Charter of the City of Cuyahoga Falls requires that all decisions made by the planning commission be submitted to city council for approval. Once a matter has been approved by the planning commission, legislation is prepared for submission to council. Stay up to date on the council's public meeting schedule here. From the time a matter has received planning commission approval, an additional two to four weeks may be needed to obtain council approval.
Several applications including Division of Land, Regulatory Amendment, and Site Development are available to perform this business and may be found in the housing and development section of Permits, Applications, and Forms.
The planning commission acts as the advisory body to the city council, in this capacity, the commission takes its responsibility and the gravity of its decision with seriousness and solemnity. In general, the planning commission:
- Will listen to sworn testimony of the applicant and others at the meeting.
- Examine maps, plans, drawings, photos, and other exhibits.
- Ascertain the facts, and
- Make a decision on the basis of the facts.
The commission, in most instances, makes its decision on the night of the hearing. Some items may be tabled to allow additional study.
Dates & Locations
Regular meetings are scheduled on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in city council chambers at the Natatorium, located at 2345 Fourth Street. Please note that the planning commission does not meet if no items are scheduled to be heard.
For further details contact the planning department at (330) 971-8135.