Cleveland OKs special zoning for 'Inman Street East' district

Cleveland OKs special zoning for 'Inman Street East' district

April 29th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Traffic flows Monday through the intersection of Inman and Dooley streets in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The creation of a special "Inman Street East Zoning District" has been added to the Cleveland Municipal Code as a way to encourage redevelopment along the city's eastern gateway.

On Monday, the Cleveland City Council voted 7-0 to approve the final passage of amendments to the city's code that are intended to revitalize the Inman Street corridor between Bible and Hill streets.

"The creation of the new zoning district will give some latitude for development," Councilman Bill Estes said. "It's a great catalyst. It makes sense and is good for the city."

The Inman Street East Zoning District is a benchmark policy change resulting from revitalization discussions involving local stakeholders, planning officials and Estes that began in early 2013.

Strategic goals of the zoning changes are to bring value to the existing neighborhood, build on areas of historic significance and create "a high-quality gateway" into Cleveland's historic downtown district, according to the amendments.

By reducing current setback requirements and focusing on aesthetics, city planners said they believe that retail, professional and multifamily residential structures such as apartments and townhouses will be accommodated under the new regulations without harming existing residential areas.

The reduction of the corridor's current setback requirements, which range from 55 feet to 90 feet, was too restrictive to encourage development when considering the small size and shapes of the lots of the targeted area, Estes said.

In comparison, the right-of-way distance is only 50 feet in Cleveland's downtown business district, according to planning documents.

The new zoning district prohibits the use of billboards and off-premise signs and the display and sale of merchandise outdoors unless explicitly approved by the Cleveland Planning Commission.

Developers are encouraged to use brick and stone similar to that used in adjacent residential areas, according to the zoning amendments.

Current property owners are grandfathered under the new zoning district requirements, said Corey Divel, city planner.

Some officials have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the zoning changes, though.

The target area is a major thoroughfare, not the business district, planning commission member Larry Presswood said in a recent meeting.

Additional infrastructural assets could be used to increase curb appeal and encourage development, said Jonathan Jobe, director of Cleveland's Development and Engineering Services Department.

Changes such as sidewalks, curbing and guttering and the introduction of landscaped center road dividers could play a key role in slowing vehicle traffic and encouraging pedestrian traffic, he said.

However, any such proposed changes would require traffic studies and Tennessee Department of Transportation approval, because Inman Street is part of the Highway 64 corridor, Jobe said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.