People who buy vacant buildings in Ravenna only to find out that they're out of luck because of zoning may have a second chance for an appeal.
Ravenna City Council approved three ordinance recently which aimed at helping people whose properties are considered a "non conforming use" under the city's zoning code. One of those laws is specifically aimed at extending a second chance to the owners of 242 S. Walnut St., who have been working with the city for about two years.
The legislation aims to help people whose buildings became "non-conforming uses" under the city's zoning code. Under that zoning, a house converted to apartments in the R-3 residential district can remain a rental if it continues to be used as such. But after a year of sitting vacant, the "non-conforming use" permit expires.
The new code offers property owners an appeals process. They allow the city's Planning Commission to consider issuing non-conforming use permits on a case-by-case basis. The commission may grant an appeal based on the time period, alterations made and other issues. It prohibits people from turning an historically single-family house into apartments. After three years, a property owner could not seek an appeal.
Property owners Mike Cone and Duane Redfern approached the city nearly two years ago about their house at 242 S. Walnut St. The imposing white building with large columns across the front has seven apartments. They purchased it in 2014, but found out about the non-conforming use issue when they tried to rent out one of the apartments. City water bill records indicate that the building has been vacant more than three years.
Councilman Rob Kairis advocated for the ordinance, implying that it's the city's fault that the new legislation doesn't apply in this situation. He added that extending the right to an appeal to the property owners doesn't necessarily guarantee that the appeal will be granted.
However, he said, the fact that the owners want to reduce the number of apartments in the structure, which once housed nine units, indicates that their plan is "going in the right direction."