Partnership Releases Report Detailing Zoning Barriers to Infill Housing

The County Planning Commission, First Suburbs Consortium, and County Land Bank Report Shows the Potential for New Housing and Identifies Zoning Issues Hindering Infill Development

The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and facilitated by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission has released their recently completed Single-Family Zoning Analysis that identifies issues within municipal zoning regulations that can make constructing infill housing difficult. The analysis is the first phase of a project that aims to improve zoning regulations in the First Suburbs.

Infill housing is new housing constructed on existing lots within largely developed communities. Infill lots tend to be those where a previous home was demolished, and the lot is vacant. The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and partners analyzed recently built single-family infill housing, conducted a survey of First Suburbs to understand zoning code effectiveness, analyzed zoning regulations to determine where barriers to infill exist, and identified vacant single-family lots that are candidates for infill.

“Many First Suburbs communities have incredible opportunity to bring new housing to market, but our own regulations stand in our way,” said Jennifer Kuzma, Director of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium. “Through the work of Phase One, we have identified those barriers for all 19 member communities. Now those communities are using that data to discuss updating their zoning which will improve the process for developers and builders to bring new housing to First Suburbs communities.”

The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission reviewed 19 zoning codes and 55 zoning districts across 13 metrics. The results of the analysis help communities identify ways to update their codes to facilitate additional infill housing. As a result of this analysis, the partners determined the following:

  • There are 5,320 lots within the First Suburbs that have the potential for single-family infill housing construction
  • Among lots zoned for single-family housing, up to 41% do not meet zoning requirements for minimum lot size, and up to 48% do not meet zoning requirements for minimum lot width
  • There have been an estimated 2,149 single-family home demolitions in the First Suburbs between 2010 and 2020, but fewer than 1,000 single-family homes have been constructed
  • The median sales price for single-family homes in the First Suburbs has increased 34% between 2009 and 2020

“Zoning is an important tool for communities to proactively guide the development of appropriate land uses, but zoning must be updated to reflect the goals of the community,” said Mary Cierebiej, AICP, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission. “This analysis shows that many zoning regulations can be modernized to better facilitate the construction of single-family infill housing.”

“The Cuyahoga Land Bank is pleased to participate and assist in funding this initiative”, said Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank. “By guiding communities on how to revise antiquated zoning regulations that create barriers to housing development, we can ease the way to seeing more vacant lots returned to productive use.”

The partnership organizations have recently entered into contract to develop phase two of the analysis, which will involve the development of best practices and model ordinances for communities.

Questions about the Single-Family Zoning Analysis should be directed to:

Patrick Hewitt, AICP
Planning Manager, Strategy & Development
Cuyahoga County Planning Commission

logos of County Planning, the First Suburbs Consortium, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank