City requests feedback on Zoning


By Derrick C. Parker - For The Daily Times



ZoneCo, a national zoning firm based in Cincinnati, has been tasked with developing an updated zoning ordinance for the City of Portsmouth. Current zoning regulations were written in the 1940s – approximately 80 years ago. ZoneCo is updating the city’s zoning laws with new districts, mapping, and 21st century redevelopment in mind.

ZoneCo, a national zoning firm based in Cincinnati, has been tasked with developing an updated zoning ordinance for the City of Portsmouth. Current zoning regulations were written in the 1940s – approximately 80 years ago. ZoneCo is updating the city’s zoning laws with new districts, mapping, and 21st century redevelopment in mind.


PORTSMOUTH – The Portsmouth City Council is requesting input from residents on zoning.

ZoneCo, a national zoning firm based in Cincinnati, has been tasked with developing an updated zoning ordinance for the City of Portsmouth. Current zoning regulations were written in the 1940s – approximately 80 years ago. ZoneCo is updating the city’s zoning laws with new districts, mapping, and 21st century redevelopment in mind.

“We took the MKSK Master Plan and made a diagnostic report with it,” explained Nolan Nicaise, a consultant for ZoneCo. “We looked at the current zoning ordinance with four objectives in mind. Were they clear and consistent? Did they regulate while encouraging investment? Do they allow for a mix of uses and structures? And they did regulate only when necessary?”

ZoneCo found that the current codes were not clear, consistent, or user friendly.

“There are undefined terms and loopholes which can lead to regulatory risks,” explained Nicaise. “There is legal ambiguity there and it may lead to trepidations on investment. Clarity and consistency is very important.”

Next, they found that off the street parking requirements are burdensome to developers. They also pointed out that some health and safety regulations are weak and that the City needed an updated usage list.

“A lot of zoning codes make it harder to invest – or more expensive to invest – in places that really need investment,” said Nicaise. “We don’t want to make it harder to invest. We want to make it so that the things the community can envision can be done as easily as possible.”

ZoneCo proposed splitting Portsmouth into eight new districts: rural, hillside neighborhood, downtown, the 23/52 corridor, university, industrial flex (near the railroad yard), and parks and open spaces. Each zone would have slightly different regulations ranging from distance to sidewalks, to height of buildings and percentage of permeable surfaces.

It is important to point out any structures that are currently up to code – and would not be after the update – would be considered ‘legal non-conforming’ structures. Meaning their status would not change unless usage of the property changed.

“This is 80 years in the making,” said Mayor and 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne. “It is long overdue.”

Dunne, as well as other council members, did have questions and concerns. Chief among those concerns were continued expansion of substance abuse treatment housing.

Sean Suder, Founder of ZoneCo, said municipalities have the ability to limit further medical housing facilities – but likely have little power on existing locations.

“There is no magic answer,” said Suder. “But other cities have dealt with it…the number is not going to change. The question is – how many more do you want?”

“One City to take a look at his Covington, Kentucky. They recently put in a caring capacity ordinance relative to treatment facilities. Very few – if any – new facilities will be able to open based on how they drew that up.”

Suder said the council could look at restricting new treatment facility housing to certain districts – ideally near existing treatment centers. “You want them to be an appropriate walk-able distance,” said Suder.

Third Ward Councilman Andy Cole had a slew of questions – and was not happy with the rough draft of zoning updates.

“This is not ready to go,” said Cole. “There are a lot of things that need worked on. And if we don’t work on it – we are going to get something that will not carry us forward and fix our issues.”

Council implored residents to reach out to them with questions and concerns.

“We need your input on this,” said 5th Ward Councilman Joey Sandlin. “Please reach out to your council member and get involved.”

Council email addresses and phone numbers can be found at portsmouthohio.org.

ZoneCo, a national zoning firm based in Cincinnati, has been tasked with developing an updated zoning ordinance for the City of Portsmouth. Current zoning regulations were written in the 1940s – approximately 80 years ago. ZoneCo is updating the city’s zoning laws with new districts, mapping, and 21st century redevelopment in mind.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/02/web1_Screenshot-2022-02-15-at-16-24-08-Facebook.jpgZoneCo, a national zoning firm based in Cincinnati, has been tasked with developing an updated zoning ordinance for the City of Portsmouth. Current zoning regulations were written in the 1940s – approximately 80 years ago. ZoneCo is updating the city’s zoning laws with new districts, mapping, and 21st century redevelopment in mind.

By Derrick C. Parker

For The Daily Times

Reach the Daily Times at (740) 353-3101 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach the Daily Times at (740) 353-3101 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved