The Lost Creek Overlay is an important component of so many positive things now happening in Bath. We are trying to insure that residents have a clear understanding of the content of the overlay, and its function.
In early 2018 it was noted to the Bath trustees that the Lost Creek subdivision was facing some long-term challenges that were brought to light in the conflict over a rezoning request for a new Chipotle on Harding Highway. This conflict was closely followed by the closing of Lost Creek golf course and a possible large area annexation into Lima.
The trustees determined that development over the years along the Harding Highway corridor had been haphazard and unplanned. This had led to several problems, including gradual business creep into the legacy residential area, increasing numbers of vacant lots on Harding Highway, increasing concentrations of homes owned by absentee landlords, bad traffic patterns, declining home values, low levels of re-investment in homes, and a decline in the condition of some existing business buildings already located in Lost Creek.
After significant research on possible solutions and numerous meetings for public input, the trustees decided on a relatively new zoning technique often called an “overlay.” In March of 2020, with the positive recommendations of the Regional Planning Commission and the Bath Zoning Board, the trustees passed an “overlay” PUD for the Harding Highway corridor on the southern edge of Lost Creek. This overlay does the following:
• It defines the area for any future business development along the Harding Highway edge of Lost Creek, by changing the actual zoning map and by requiring an actual physical wall separating any business from the residential area. These terms hope to address “business creep” over time and thus protect the residential area.
• It defines what types of businesses can and cannot be created inside the “overlay” area. Specifically excluded are outdoor vehicle storage, campgrounds, manufactured homes for residential use or sale, car, truck or trailer sales lots, self-storage, pawn shops, tattoo parlors, adult entertainment or gaming businesses, marijuana dispensaries, “pay day” lenders, truck stops, and bars, among others. This protects the residential area from intrusive type businesses.
• The “overlay” PUD imposes strict architectural requirements that ensure high quality, professional style buildings, specific materials, lighting restrictions, noise restrictions, and landscape architectural requirements. This ensures a reversal of business building decline, increases business and residential values, and protects the residential area from light and noise pollution.
In order to enforce the restrictions in the overlay and ensure that only high quality and compatible business development will result, the trustees structured the “overlay” so that it does not change any zoning by the passing of this resolution.
In order for zoning to change, any new business developer must submit a development plan to the trustees, who then must confirm the plan’s compliance with all the protections in the overlay. Only then does any zoning change, and then the change is limited to just that property. This system allows for new businesses and employers to come to this already substantially commercialized area, while still protecting the residential area from harmful intrusions. Opponents have said that our efforts “target” homes for demolition or destruction. In fact, the opposite is true. This overlay keeps the power of any future change to any home in Lost Creek solely in the hands of the current homeowner. Only that owner can initiate any plan for their property. This law change keeps that power in that individual homeowner’s hands for as long as they wish.
The positive benefits of the overlay improvement are already being felt. Young people are moving into Lost Creek, people are investing their hard earned money into improving their homes there, home values have risen, a private investor is re-opening the golf course and rehabilitating the club house, and one of the three new residential projects planned in Bath calls for brand new homes located in Lost Creek! The overlay approach is rescuing this stately, beautiful legacy neighborhood from years of gradual decline, and it has a future again!
We have worked very hard to change the perception of Bath to an enlightened community that says “yes” to new residential and employment opportunities. With vacant business buildings being replaced with new employers, and new residential development again in the pipeline, it is clear our plans are working.
As residents decide how to vote on the upcoming referendum, we highly recommend that they visit the Bath trustee website @ bathtwp.com, follow the “Harding Highway Business Overlay” tab under “Township News,” and actually read the overlay proposal.