By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK
Contributing Writer The North Royalton City Council unanimously adopted legislation that will disband the city’s Architectural Review Board and incorporate the duties into the Planning Commission. The legislation was first introduced at the December 17 meeting and referred to the Planning Commission, as well as the City Council Building and Building Codes Committee. The Building and Building Codes Committee approved the legislation on January 21 and the Planning Commission recommended approval at their January 29 meeting.
According to the city’s codified ordinances, the ARB, “shall review, determine and take final action on the design esthetics, building material quality, building quality, relationships to natural features and all other aspects of any plan previously approved by the Planning Commission which relate to the appearance of an entire project, all of its parts and its surroundings. All standards, regulations and criteria contained in this chapter shall be considered by the Architectural Review Board in its review. Architectural Review Board determinations and actions must meet at least the minimum Planning and Zoning Code requirements. The Architectural Review Board shall hear requests for variances from the application of the Residential Code of Ohio.
The ARB uses the following standards and criteria in their review of all site and building plans for development: Preservation of Landscape; Relation of Proposed Buildings to Environment; Drives; Parking and Circulation; Electrical and Telephone Service; Advertising Features; Accessory Features; Landscaping; Lighting; Architectural Details and Ornaments; Mechanical Equipment; Materials; Colors and Textures; Buffering and Fences; Specific Design Standards and Comprehensive Master Plan.
The incorporation of the ARB into the Planning Commission is not a new situation. The ARB was established many years ago. It was abolished and incorporated into the Planning Commission duties in 1992. It was again removed and the ARB was again established in 1996, but it wasn’t put into action until 2005.
The shift of the Architectural Review Board’s duties was initiated as an effort to streamline the process that developers and new businesses go through. Last fall, Building Commissioner Dan Kulchytsky and Economic Development Director Tom Jordan addressed City Council’s Building and Building Codes Committee, proposing the measure. In addition, they proposed changes that would allow businesses to allow for some changes that would be approved by the Building Commissioner. “Now they have to go to the ARB for approvals. It’s not the best scenario for a new business. We can handle some of that internally,” said Kulchytsky. He noted that “the codes speak to sign specifications. That can be done advantageously by just making an appointment to obtain approval. They can still appeal the decision.”