Xenia's Community Design Standards?

Bloggers Note:  The below post, is the view & opinion of the author, and in no way is the opinion or view of the City of Xenia, or any of its council or commission's.

Xenia, if I asked you, if you like the look of the Biscuit World building on Allison Avenue or the Walgreen’s, compared to their Beavercreek store, what would you say? What would, or should,  you ask the city leaders to do, to address your opinion?

Questions like these and many others were presented to the "Design Standards Committee" that was formed by Xenia’s City Council in early 2009. The outcome was a proposed “Community Design Guidelines”, which is actually a requested modification and addition to the Codified Ordinances of the City of Xenia.  The "guidelines", are proposed new standards for which the city would regulate and approve renovations to existing construction or new building designs. The intent quoted in the current draft of the ordinance says:

“is to describe and outline standards to improve the quality, appearance and functions of new development and re-developments (in the city of Xenia)."

The committee and idea of having design standards was that of Council Member John Caupp. On a recent post on the city’s Facebook page, he said:

“The Community Design Guidelines was my idea from the beginning. I asked that the committee be formed to address concerns that many citizens in the city of Xenia have about the future of their city.”

A year ago, early in the committee’s meetings, it was stated that

the need to obtain community wide support for the committee’s efforts would be important in getting the standards more readily accepted.”  

The recent effort of our city leaders to engage the community on the “Future of the City” was a survey and focus groups of its citizens. In those efforts, new design standards and zoning ordinances were not listed by the citizens as being a “Need for Xenia” and current code enforcement was only chosen by 3% of the population to be a top priority at this time. However, during a presentation to City Council of those results, design guidelines where listed as one of the “Next Steps” in the “Vision of Xenia”. Despite the survey results, the city leadership have continued to set these standards as a priority and city resources have been directed to develop them.

Slides from the January 28,  2010  City Council Meeting

The committee met several times between June of 2009 and January of 2010.  It was made up of invited members who included city employees, developers, residents, business owners, and members of City Council. Suggestions from the committee are numerous and include ideas like; a formal Design review process, which includes the current process of having design plans reviewed. However, the draft ordinance would also give new “authority” to the Planning & Zoning Commission to:

“stipulate conditions it deems necessary to protect the public interest & this ordinance...”  

The work of the committee included a draft document with several pages of requirements to meet these guidelines; which includes requirements for landscaping, use of defined architectural elements, & a list of “approved” building material. It does not go as far to define colors, but is quoted as saying:

“The combination of materials and color such as defining details in the way bricks are arranged, joint spacing and/or use of two contrasting or complementary colors and textures are important in defining the architecture design of a structure.”

 and later says

“A color palette shall be submitted that shows a coordinated color for the base, cap and accent color of structures.”

The ordinance passing is not a sure thing yet, however one thing is for sure, by the direction of some of our City Council, the proposed ordinance is making a clear statement from them & supporters of the work. If we would like to make improvements to our property or build new homes & buildings with-in Xenia, you will be required to meet a new “community standard.” This is in effort to attract more residents and investors. Do you support city wide requirements on our properties, which include foundation landscaping or architectural elements? Do you agree it will be a long term improvement to attract residents and business into Xenia?

This process was put into motion a year ago and we should make our opinions be heard. It is not too early and it is not too late.  The philosopher Plato said " The beginning is the most important part of the work”.  Be sure to check back soon.

~JDL

Bloggers Note:  Read the draft ordinance yourself &  make up your own mind!


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