CHAGRIN FALLS — The Village Planning and Zoning Commission is set to meet Monday night, but it is unclear whether members will reconsider a zoning amendment which, if passed, would throw 12 residential properties into non-conforming status.

That means there could be a need for variances should the owner wish to add to the footprint of the existing home, officials said.

Councilwoman Nancy Rogoff, a representative on the zoning commission, explained that the amendment seeks to include open porch areas into the footprint of a house as a “better way to measure the size of a house” and increase the total square footage of the structure.

But after the meeting, Ms. Rogoff said she did not know where the 12 properties were located and in which residential zoning districts or how the calculations were made and the nonconforming status was decided.

On Monday, council members heard the second of three readings of the ordinance.

A public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 when council will vote to decide the issue.

That could restrict or make impossible even a modest addition to a house after city officials consider the lot size, size of house as well as back, side and front yard setback requirements now on the books.

If passed, the amendment would discourage the retention or addition of the “friendly” small town front porch, architectural review board adviser George Clemens told council.

Keeping the open front porch was something the village and architectural board encourage, he said, but for a homeowner desiring more space, it becomes a choice of keeping a porch or adding a family room.

Councilman Darren Wyville said he believed the planning commission was “well meaning” but wondered, “What is the point, where’s the benefit? There are 12 houses here and what I see is 12 new problems.”

Ms. Rogoff said she was unsure that the porch amendment would be part of Monday’s agenda.

She added later that she disagreed with Mr. Clemens’ viewpoint and with the 12-house number that was brought up during the discussion or what methodology the zoning inspector used to compile the list.

“I don’t know where these houses are or how it was determined they would be non-conforming,” she said. “There are a lot of houses in the village that are already non-conforming and these may be, too.”

Rationale for proposing the amendment was a way to prevent mansionization and over-massing of small lots, Ms. Rogoff said.

She conceded the planning body should define types of porches that would be included in the square foot calculation and whether they have foundations or if they are the basic footers in dirt style porches.

In the end, the latter may not in the final analysis, be defined as part of the square footage, Ms. Rogoff said.

Those zoning definitions are on the planning commission’s “to do” list, Ms. Rogoff said, adding that perhaps they should have been addressed first.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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