published Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Special zoning district proposed by board

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland Planning Commission has recommended creating a special “Inman Street East Zoning District” as a way to encourage redevelopment of the city’s historic eastern gateway.

In a recent meeting, the city planning board voted 7-0 to put the matter before the Cleveland City Council for approval.

“This is a way to make it a little more attractive as a gateway into downtown,” city planner Corey Divel said.

The proposed Inman Street East Zoning District runs from Bible Street to Hill Street and is intended to bring value to the neighborhood, build on areas of historic significance and create “a high-quality gateway” into Cleveland’s historic downtown district, according to planning documents.

“I’m all for the development of East Inman Street … [and] I’m hoping this will help it in some way, but it’s not the Cleveland downtown business district, it’s a major thoroughfare,” said planning board member Larry Presswood.

Planners said retail, professional and multifamily residential facilities such as apartments and townhouses can be accommodated under the proposed zoning district without causing an undesirable impact on existing residential areas.

Considering the small size and shapes of the lots along the targeted corridor, very little development can occur under current setback and other requirements, Divel said.

The area’s current right-of-way, which ranges from 55 feet to 90 feet, is very restrictive, said Jonathan Jobe, director of Cleveland’s Development and Engineering Services.

In comparison, the city’s downtown business district has a right-of-way distance of only 50 feet, he said.

Aesthetics are a key concern of the proposed district zone, as well.

Developers are encouraged to use brick and stone similar to that used in adjacent existing neighborhoods and to avoid large, blank walls, according to the proposal.

The proposed zoning regulations would prohibit billboards, off-premise signs and display and sale of merchandise outdoors unless explicitly approved by the Planning Commission.

Divel said current property owners will be grandfathered under the new zoning district if it is approved by the City Council.

More infrastructural measures can be implemented to increase East Inman’s curb appeal, Jobe has said.

Sidewalks, curbing and guttering could be part of that, as could the introduction of landscaped center road dividers, he said. Such changes would slow vehicle traffic and make the area more conducive to pedestrians, according to Jobe.

However, any such proposed changes would require approval of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, since Inman is part of the U.S. Highway 64 corridor, he said.

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

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