Bay Village has been debating establishing a riparian setback for the last few years. The proposal which began with a 75 foot setback has now been scaled down to 25 feet. Yet the ordinance is still controversial and City Council decided to delay its vote enacting the provision.
The debate before Council was covered in the West Shore Sun:
Council took the items off the March 21 meeting agenda after hearing concerns voiced by Lake Road resident and attorney, Homer Taft…
Taft told council he felt the proposed legislation was onerous, would impose unfair hardships on some residents, and could be found unconstitutional.
Residents near creeks wanting to make changes on their property could face thousands of dollars in additional engineering expenses, he said. In addition, some residents could find themselves facing restrictions on developing significant portions of their property.
“I believe this ordinance is unfair to property owners and rather draconian,” Taft said.
He also questioned whether the city is really obligated to pass the legislation.
“I know you are being told the EPA requires this,” Taft said. “I challenge anyone to provide written evidence that’s true.”
Riparian setback ordinances are appearing all over Northeast Ohio due to a strong push by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, local officials with Ohio EPA and the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District. I am willing to bet that more areas are covered by riparian setback requirements in Northeast Ohio than anywhere else in Ohio.
From the article is appears there is still confusion as to whether Ohio EPA is mandating local municipalities adopt the ordinances to comply with NPDES permit requirements to control stormwater. As discussed in a previous post, setbacks are but one option municipalities can utilize to meet their stormwater control requirements.
From an environmental standpoint do setback have value? There is no debate setbacks have value by providing flood retention, filtering of pollutants and habitat to improve water quality. While there are benefits, they also restrict owners ability to fully utilize their property.
Many municipalities passed setback ordinances without really understanding what they were placing on their books. City Councils then faced outraged citizens who complained about "no build zones" on their properties. Some Boards of Zoning Appeals were faced with controversial variance requests to appease local citizens. Given the controversy its a good idea that Bay Village is having a robust debate.