Certain proposals for construction, exterior alterations, building demolitions or signs in the City of Cleveland must undergo a process known as "design review." The City established this process as a policy to ensure that any visual changes to buildings or open spaces will enhance the architectural character of Neighborhood Commercial Districts.


BRD Ordinance

303.01 Statement of Purpose
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The City hereby authorizes the establishment of Business Revitalization Districts to ensure appropriate design of buildings signage and property in business areas targeted for concentrated improvements. More specifically. it is the purpose of this chapter to achieve. among others, the following objectives:

a) To preserve jobs, tax revenues and local services through the upgrading of business districts;

b) To safeguard the public, investment in revitalization through prevention of inappropriate signage and property design in business areas targeted for concentrated public improvements and rehabilitation financing: and

c) To protect residential and commercial property values, particularly for businesses and residents committing private funds to rehabilitation in designated revitalization areas. (Ord. No. 1664-88. Passed 10-3-88, eff. 10-6-88)

303.02 District Establishment
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Business Revitalization Districts shall be established and amended in accordance with the procedure~ for amending the Zoning Map as set forth in Chapter 333 of the Zoning Code as well as the provisions of Section 303.03. In addition, the City Planning Commission may consider establishment of a Business Revitalization District upon receipt of a written request for designation adopted b~ the governing bodies of one or more local development corporations or business ,associations serving the District (hereinafter referred to as the "local sponsoring organization". Such request shall be accompanied by an accurate parcel map precisely indicating the proposed District boundaries. (Ord. No. 1684-88. Passed 10-3-88, eff. 10-6-88)

303.03 Criteria For District Designation
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A geographic area proposed for Business Revitalization District designation shall be considered eligible only if such area is in conformance with the criteria listed below. Two or more noncontiguous areas, each meeting the criteria below, may be designated as a single District if the distance between any two such areas is no more than 1500 feet.

(a) Size. At least 2,000 lineal feet of street frontage (measured separately on each side of a street. with only one frontage measured per building).

(b) Zoning. At least seventy-five percent (75%) of parcels in nonresidential districts.

(c) Organization. Served by a Local Development Corporation or business association (requesting District designation).

(d) Public Investment. Included within a Storefront Renovation Target Area or other area targeted by the City of Cleveland for concentrated public improvements or property renovation assistance (with funding committed or expended within the ten (10) years immediately preceding district designation. (Ord. No. 1684-88. Passed 10-3-88. eff. 10-6-88)

303.04 District Mapping
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Business Revitalization Districts shall be shown on the Zone Map of the City of Cleveland as "overlay districts" to he applied in conjunction with the "underlying" zoning district. Provisions of the underlying district shall remain in effect except where inconsistent with the provisions of the Business Revitalization District. (Ord, No. 1684-88. Passed 10-3-88, eff. 10-6-88)

303.05 Applicability
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Within a Business Revitalization District, no building proposed for nonresidential, multi-family or townhouse (rowhouse) use, or other structure on such property, shall be erected. constructed, altered in exterior construction or appearance, enlarged, moved or demolished unless such action complies with the provisions of this chapter. However, the following activities are specifically excluded from such applicability:

(a) Replacement of window panes in existing frames;

(b) Masonry repointing or cleaning in areas not visible from any adjoining streets;

(c) Gutter and downspout repair or replacement with no change in color or location,

(d) Roofing repair or replacement except where roof surface is visible from any adjoining streets;

(e) Repaving of driveways, parking lots or walkways with like material;

(f) Repair or replacement of damaged or worn building elements or structures not visible from any adjoining streets;

(g) Emergency action requiring immediate attention as ordered by the Commissioner of Building and Housing;

(h) Activities not requiring a building permit and;

(i) Demolition activities required by the City pursuant to Section 3103.09 of the Codified Ordinances. (Ord. No. 1684-88, Passed 10-3-88. eff. 10-6-88)

303.06 Local Design Review Advisory Committee
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As part of the Advisory Committee authorized by Section 76-4 of the City Charter, a Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall be established in each designated Business Revitalization District to perform required reviews of applications. The following provisions shall govern the establishment and operation of each such committee.

(a) Composition and Appointment. The Advisory Committee shall be composed of not less than Five (5) and not more than seven (7) members. appointed by the City Planning Commission in accordance with Section 76-4 of the City Charter, based upon nominations submitted by the local sponsoring organization. A majority of the members appointed to each Advisory Committee shall be architects or other recognized design professionals, with the remaining members representing businesses or other organizations with operations in the District. The term "recognized design professionals" shall refer to individuals with documented expertise in such fields as landscape architecture, urban design, graphic design. art, history, or historic preservation.

(b) Nonvoting Members, A maximum of four (4) nonvoting members may be appointed to assist in the operation of each Advisory Committee. Such members shall be limited to staff of the City Planning Commission. Community Development Department, and the local sponsoring organization, as appointed by the director of each respective organization.

(c) Term of Appointment. Each Advisory Committee member shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years and may be re-appointed to additional terms at the discretion of the City Planning Commission.

(d) Quorum and Voting. A majority of the Advisory Committee's voting membership shall constitute a quorum, without which no votes may be taken. Approval of an application shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of the Advisory Committee's members regardless of the number present.

(e) Meetings and Records. . The Advisory Committee shall meet at least twice monthly unless there is no business to conduct. The staff representative of the City Planning Commission shall he designated as the Advisory Committee's Secretary and shall be responsible for prompt preparation of typed minutes which shall be retained by the City Planning Commission in a centralized file for all Local Design Review Advisory Committees.

(f) Committee Name. The City Planning Director shall assign each Local Design Review Committee a name identified with the District served by the Committee (e.g., "Crosstown Design Review Advisory Committee").

(g) Storefront Renovation Program. Within a Business Revitalization District, the Design Review Advisory Committee established by this chapter shall also serve as the design review body for applications for assistance under the City's storefront renovation program. (Ord. No. 1(84-88. Passed 10-1-88. eff. 10-6-88)

303.07 Administrative Procedures
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The following procedures are established to govern the processing of applications for building permits and other municipal authorizations for properties located in Business Revitalization Districts, except as provided in Section 303.11.
(a) Contents of' Application. In addition to meeting application requirements established in the Building Code and Zoning Code, applications governed by the provisions of this chapter shall include the following elements.

(1) Color photographs clearly showing the subject property in the context of adjoining properties within 250 lineal feet on either side of the subject property.
(2) Architectural drawings including elevation and site plans for the construction or exterior alterations proposed. indicating design materials, colors. type of illumination and signs.
(3) Written description of the exterior alterations proposed, including materials and installation methods.

(b) Determination of Applicability. Upon receipt of an application for a building permit or other municipal authorization, the Commissioner of Building and Housing shall use the standards of Section 303.05 to determine whether the proposed action is governed by the provisions of this chapter. If it is determined that the action is governed such provisions, the Commissioner of Building and Housing shall promptly refer the applicant to the Director of the City Planning Commission, who will then transmit the application to the Local Design Review Advisory Committee for review and recommendation. Other required City reviews shall be conducted concurrently.

(c) Standards for Review. The Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall evaluate the proposed action with respect to the design guidelines of Section 303.08 and supplemental guidelines as authorized in Section 303.09. Staff of the City: and local sponsoring organization may provide technical assistance to the applicant, using such references as the City's "Commercial Design Standards Manual".

(d) Design Review Advisory Committee Action. At its next regular meeting occurring at least five (5) days after acceptance of a complete application the City Planning Director, the Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall recommend either approval, approval with modifications or conditions, disapproval of the application (unless the applicant authorizes an extension in time). In the case of disapproval, the Advisory Committee shall recommend changes to the proposal, if appropriate, to permit reconsideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting. For applications proposing the demolition or moving of buildings or structures, other than demolition activities undertaken pursuant to Section 3103.09, the Advisory Committee's action shall be limited to recommending either approval or "delayed approval" as prescribed in Section 303.10.

(e) Notifications. The City Planning Director shall inform the applicant in writing of the time and location of the Advisory Committee's meeting. Subsequent to that meeting, the Advisory Committee shall issue to the applicant and the City Planning Commission its written recommendation stating reasons for a recommendation of disapproval.

(f) Final Action of City Planning Commission. The City Planning Commission shall take final action on the Local Design Review Advisory Committee's recommendation at its next regularly scheduled meeting occurring at least two (2) days after submission of the recommendation to the City Planning Director. Pursuant to the "Rules of the City Planning Commission" regarding administrative approvals, the City Planning Director is authorized to act on behalf of the Commission in approving applications recommended for approval by the Local Design Review Advisory Committee. However, use of the administrative approval procedure is not authorized in the case of applications for demolition or moving.

(g) Issuance of Certificate of Appropriateness. Upon approval of an application. the City Planning Director shall certify such approval by issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness. A Certificate of Appropriateness shall be either issued or denied within forty-five (45) days of initial receipt of' a complete application by the City Planning Director unless an extension has been requested by the applicant. (Ord. No. 1684-88. Passed 10-3-88, eff. 10-6-88)

303.08 Design Guidelines
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In its review of applications subject to provisions of this Chapter, the Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall follow the design guidelines set forth below as well as supplemental design guidelines specifically prepared for the District, if such guidelines have been recommended by the City Planning Commission and approved by Council.

(a) Design Compatibility. Alterations, additions and new development should be compatible in scale, material, color, placement and character with the design of the subject property as well as the design of properties which are representative of the area's most valued architectural and environmental qualities. In evaluating compatibility, consideration shall also be given to the value of diversity and individuality in design.

(b) Contemporary Design. All buildings are recognized as products of their own time. Alterations, additions and new developments which have no historical basis and which seek to create an earlier appearance are not required. Conversely, compatible contemporary design is encouraged except where such design would clearly detract from the architectural unity of a grouping of architecturally significant structures.

(c) Preservation of Features. The distinguishing original qualities of a property should not be diminished through alteration or removal of distinctive architectural features.

(d) Replacement of Features. In the event that replacement of significant architectural features is necessary (as determined by the Local Design Review Advisory Committee and City Planning Director), the new material should closely match the original material in composition, design, color, texture and all other visual qualities.

(e) Cleaning. The cleaning of exterior wall surfaces should be undertaken by the gentlest means possible. Sandblasting and other cleaning methods that will damage facing materials and architectural features shall not be undertaken.

(f) Fences and Other Accessory Structures. Fences, walkways, area lighting, benches, landscaping and other accessory structures should be compatible in design with adjoining buildings and with the most valued aspects of the district's overall character. Use of chain-link fences along street frontages is discouraged unless otherwise specified in adopted plans or guidelines for the district.

(g) Parking Lots. Use of coniferous shrubbery and trees in combination with low fences is encouraged in screening parking lots from streets. Use of curbed, planted islands is encouraged to provide visual relief in large parking areas and to control traffic circulation. For districts characterized by buildings set along the street line, parking lots should be located behind or on the side of buildings whenever possible, with entrances located off of adjoining side streets.

(h) Signs. In addition to meeting Zoning Code and Building Code requirements for signs in applicable zoning districts, signs within Business Revitalization Districts shall also meet the design guidelines of this Chapter and, in particular, those stated below.

(1) Placement. Wall signs should be designed to fit within the architectural space intended for signage Similarly, wall signs should never cover distinctive architectural features.
(2) Compatibility. Signs to be seen as a series should be designed with compatibility in terms of location size, shape, style, material, illumination and color. As a general rule, uniformity should be maintained certain characteristics while other characteristics are varied to permit individual expression and identification.
(3) Color. The color(s) of a sign should complement the color(s) of the building facade to which the sign relates.
(4) Lettering and Symbols. The lettering and symbols on a sign should be large enough to be easily read but not overly large or out of scale with the building on which the sign is displayed. An excessive amount of information on signs, creating an image of visual clutter, should be avoided. Use of distinctive symbols or logos on signs is encouraged.
(5) Projecting Signs. Where permitted, projecting signs should be no larger than necessary for readability by nearby pedestrians and should contain no internal illumination unless otherwise specified in adopted plans or guidelines for the district. Spacing between projecting signs should be sufficient to prevent an image of clutter.
(6) Non-Panel Signs. For buildings lacking architectural spaces clearly designed for sign panels, it is often preferable that lettering be placed directly on the wall surface, on display windows or on the front piece of compatible awnings or canopies. Such signs are less likely to detract from a building's architectural character. However, letters placed directly on walls should be attached in a manner which will not require costly repair after removal.
(7) Billboards. Billboards, shall not be permitted in a designated Business Revitalization District.

303.09 Adopted District Plans
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In addition to considering design standards of Section 303.08, the Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall evaluate applications in accordance with standards contained in development and design plans, where such plans have been recommended by the City Planning Commission and approved by Council for the designated District. (Ord. No. 1684?88. Passed 10?3?88, eff. 10?6?88)

303.10 Demolition and Moving
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For applications proposing the demolition or moving of a building in a Business Revitalization District, other than those demolitions undertaken pursuant to Section 3103.09 of the Codified Ordinances, the following provisions shall apply:

(a) Determination of Significance. The Local Design Review Advisory Committee shall determine whether the proposed action will significant1y detract from the District's architectural and design character. The Advisory Committee shall consider both the intrinsic significance of the building and its significance to adjoining properties and the District overall.

(b) Nature of Action. If it is determined that the proposal will not significantly detract from the District's architectural and design character. the Advisory Committee shall recommend approval of the application. If the Advisory Committee determines otherwise, it shall recommend "delayed approval", not to become effective for a period of one hundred twenty (120) days, or a lesser period as recommended by the Advisory Committee. This time period is provided to permit the City, public agencies, civic groups and other interested parties a reasonable opportunity to seek alternatives to the proposed action. Alternatives might include acquisition or moving of a property to be demolished. (Ord. No. 1684?88. Passed 10?3?88, eff. 10?6?88)

303.11 Exclusions
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Within Business Revitalization Districts. activities subject to review by the Cleveland Landmarks Commission and those subject to review under the Public Land Protective District shall not be subject to the provisions of this chapter. However, this exemption shall not apply to activities assisted under the City of Cleveland's storefront renovation program.

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