Ross commissioners approve ‘mixed-use overlay district’
A measure that could help reshape the McKnight Road corridor in Ross has been approved by the board of commissioners.
In the future, developers will be able to combine housing and businesses on a single, five-acre parcel instead of buildings being limited to commercial uses only.
In addition to allowing developers to blend retail space, offices, restaurants and multi-family housing on a single lot, the so-called “mixed-use overlay district” will require pedestrian walkways to link buildings and the surrounding neighborhood.
Restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor seating and projects must include bicycle parking and set aside a minimum of 20 percent of the land for open space.
Digital signs, businesses with drive-through lanes and automotive service and filling stations will be prohibited.
To address storm water problems that can occur in developments with large parking lots, the ordinance provides for a “bonus” that will allow developers to add 5-percent more parking if they add storm-water control — rain gardens, green roofs and various other measures to control runoff.
Ross’ likely first mixed-use development — a pair of apartment buildings with retail and office space on the lower floors – will be at the former Northway Elementary School on Brown’s Lane. He said the formula is “the evolution of retail.”
“Mixed-use developments are a national trend,” said Jeff Mills, an attorney representing Akron, Ohio-based LRC Realty. “Placing upscale retail shops, nice restaurants and offices together with housing not only creates a destination for people to visit, it creates an attractive option for the growing number of people who desire those amenities without necessarily having to drive.”
Mills said the planned project is designed to complement LRC’s redevelopment of the former Northway Mall site.
The change’s two most ardent supporters — Commissioners Steve Korbel and Jeremy Shaffer — have said the development tool is a way to plan for the future.
Korbel said the major shift in the retail landscape has resulted in more than a dozen major chains filing for bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2017 or announcing store closings — a strong reason for allowing mixed-use developments.
The McCandless Crossing complex, just north of Ros on McKnight, is a local example of mixed-use development.