Back in business

EAST PALESTINE -Had the village’s existing architectural design review board been operating a few years ago it would have prevented storage buildings on Market Street from being painted orange.

The board met for the first time in years this January, and has met three times since then. The statement regarding the Econ-O-Space storage buildings was made by councilman and board member Don Elzer, according to the January meeting minutes.

During the council meeting last week he said the rejuvenation of the board has “opened a can of worms on 25 different subjects.”

Over the last four meetings board members have been trying to determine how to go about re-exerting the board’s authority, which reportedly would have had a significant impact over the years had it been active.

The board establishes design guidelines, mostly with regard to aesthetics, and has authority over commercial and industrial areas. That authority was given by ordinance in 1998, which stated the village is not to approve anything in those areas without the board’s approval, although that has not been done since the board became inactive.

Before this year the board had not met in years, and current member John Turner said previously they quit meeting because there had been no referrals.

According to meeting minutes, it was Elzer who suggested drafting a letter to send to local businesses to explain the board is active again and is for their benefit.

Those serving on the board alongside Elzer and Turner are Mayor Margo Zuch, Village Manager Pete Monteleone, Shirley Gorby and Jana Grim. Council Clerk Misti Martin serves as secretary, and Nancy Rhodes served on the board until resigning this month for personal reasons.

Elzer said they are looking for a new board member, who will join them in the process of determining which avenues new businesses must go through before operating since the board is active again.

Members serve on a volunteer basis and must be village residents.

“The biggest hurdle is going to be coming up with design standards that all (industrial and commercial businesses) will have to meet,” he said.

A certificate of appropriateness is required of businesses according to the 1998 ordinance, and Monteleone is working on getting that re-implemented. Certificates are also required in other areas with review boards and given upon completion and approval of an application submitted by businesses.

Existing businesses will not be affected, Elzer said, although any new changes would possibly need to go before the board.

Industrial and commercial buildings have always had to pass state requirements for health, safety and structure before being permitted in the village, and that will remain.

The board had questioned whether businesses would need to go through the village’s zoning and planning commission, review board, and village and the state for permitting, and Turner said at the February meeting there is “no clear process” laid out for that.

The board is working on figuring out the proper procedure. No additional fees are being discussed.

The board meets the third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. in the administration building.