Chapter 519 of the Ohio Revised Code gives Ohio Townships the power to enable zoning within their jurisdictions for the purpose of promoting the health, safety, and morals of the public. Currently within Wood County, seventeen and a half of all nineteen townships are zoned. The Planning Commission is responsible for assisting all zoned Townships with zoning issues that occur within their Townships, assisting these Townships with interoperating and updating their current Zoning Resolutions, and also making recommendations to these Townships regarding zoning map changes.
The Planning Commission Office currently houses maps and corresponding text Resolutions of all zoned Townships within Wood County. We also have contact information for all Zoning Officials within these zoned Townships. If you need to find the specific zoning classification of a property, need to find out who your Township’s zoning official is, or have a general zoning question, please call our office and we can help.
A Brief History of Zoning
Modern zoning laws started out as nuisance laws in the late nineteenth century. These nuisance laws dealt with operations like quarries, rendering plants, and stockyards, which, much like American cities at the time, were growing quickly, and in a chaotic pattern. Industrial uses spilled over into residential uses, retail into industrial, and so on.
In the early twentieth century, the “City Beautiful” movement began as a response to this chaotic and un-orderly growth. Central to this movement was the concept that cities needed more open space, and that future land use planning also needed to occur in order to maintain a decent quality of life for all residents. In New York City, the idea of classifying similar land uses into various districts, and then forcing similar land uses to locate in their specific land use district. In 1916 New York City implemented this concept, and zoning was born.
The watershed event for zoning occurred in 1926 when the VILLAGE OF EUCLID V. AMBLER REALTY COMPANY went before the United States Supreme Court. In the time since New York City introduced zoning in 1916 the practice had spread across the country to over 500 municipalities nation wide. The City of Euclid, Ohio was one of these municipalities. In this particular case, the Ambler Realty Company took the City of Euclid to court claiming that the zoning laws were unconstitutional, and they diminished the property value of a particular parcel of land. The case eventually wound up in the United States Supreme Court where in an unprecedented move, the court ruled in favor of the zoning laws.
Since then zoning laws have become more elaborate and complex, however the core intention of them, to group similar land uses together for the public safety and welfare has not changed.
The Purposes of Zoning
As stated above, the main purpose of zoning is to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of all residents of a community. In addition to this broad purpose, zoning also serves several distinct purposes, some of which are outlined below:
- To designate selected land uses and structural requirements only to areas of the community where they area appropriate. Example: industrial uses located near rail lines, major highways, and not in residential areas.
- Discourage non-farm development in farming areas
- To prevent intrusion or expansion of incompatible uses and structures which would injure or tend to destabilize the intended character of an area.
- To insure compatibility and coordination with regards to distribution of land use and the design capacity of public services such as streets, water, electric, and fire protection.
- To insure that adequate light, air and accessibility to public services are provided to all properties.
- To protect the quality of life within a community through a design and intensity of land use which will secure the public safety from fire, flooding air and water pollution, noise and other physical dangers and nuisances.
What Zoning Can and Cannot Do
A common question asked is ‘what exactly are the powers and limitations of zoning? Simply put, what can and cannot zoning do?
Zoning CAN do the following:
- Protect farmers from limitations on spraying, machinery operation, and manure disposal by limiting the number of future non-farm rural residencies.
- Reduce local traffic on Township roads.
- Keep rural water tables from being lowered due to new wells for non-farm purposes.
- Protect farmers from having to pay excessive property taxes or assessments to finance public services such as new water and sewer lines to serve new rural residents.
- Keep noisy drive-ins, taverns, dance halls, and other incompatible land uses out of quiet residential areas.
- Require construction be completed in a reasonable period of time.
- Discourage or prevent the placing of structures on land that is unsuitable for development such as wetland and floodplain areas.
Zoning CANNOT do the following:
- Pay a landowner to compensate them for a loss in property value because of restrictions placed on the land.
- Give a local government representative the right to enter onto property for inspection purposes.
- Force the immediate cessation of a land use practice that is a public nuisance.
- Give the public the right to use land next to a public stream or lake for access to public waters.
- Assure a landowner that their property will not be assessed for taxing purposes above its value for uses permitted by existing zoning regulations.
- Prevent a private landowner from selling their property for whatever use they see fit.