Zoning and planning practices can also be utilized to advance goals that are not land use related. The Chamber is opposing a proposal currently before Toledo City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee that would require a number of new facility standards for all pre-k to 12 schools within Toledo. Requirements would include having a gymnasium, an athletic field and track at junior high and high schools, and an outdoor playground at non-high schools, among other standards. These types of amenities don’t necessarily add to the classroom experience. This proposal could reduce future educational choices available to parents. Had these standards been in place several years ago, opportunities like the Toledo School for the Arts and The Maritime Academy of Toledo would likely not be available.
This is not to say changes aren’t sometimes needed, and local zoning and planning policy should be reviewed and updated as necessary. For example, Toledo code has been restrictive on use of electronic signs, resulting in a significant number of variances being sought from the Board of Zoning Appeals. This is contributing to unnecessary delays for applicants and additional work for city officials. The issue is being examined by the Plan Commission to establish an improved regulatory framework and bring the code up to date with existing sign technology. Businesses rely on these signs to promote their goods and services, and the Chamber is currently working with local officials as changes to the signage code are considered.
Zoning and planning policies can promote development and improve the look of our community. It is important to ensure that those decisions take into account how they may impact the lifeblood of the community - our businesses and residents. Our efforts in this area are just one example of the many ways that the Chamber is promoting a thriving business environment.
As Manager for Local Government Advocacy, Tim Schneider advocates for local policies and laws that safeguard and foster a pro-business environment in the Toledo Region. Tim has more than 10 years of legislative and public policy experience with the local, state and federal levels of government.