New home design standards head for Pataskala Council vote

Pataskala Council has begun the process of adopting new residential appearance standards for newly built or significantly refurbished homes in the town.

On Jan. 21, the proposed new standards were formally introduced at the first of several public hearings ahead of Tuesday evening’s regular city council meeting.

As previously stated, the new standards are intended to enhance the aesthetic appearance, build quality and durability of new homes being built in the city.

The proposed new Pataskala standards are modeled on similar standards recently formulated and adopted by the City of Canal Winchester.

In shaping its standards, Canal sought to achieve greater architectural diversity and sustainable materials to ensure long-term visual appeal, according to Pataskala planning director Scott Fulton.

Among the things that Canal also sought to eliminate – and which are found in the Pataskala version of the standards – are the so-called “empty elevations”, or the sides of a house without doors, windows or similar design elements, which which gave rise to what one board member was previously likened to a sea of ​​”vinyl siding”.

While no public comment was received regarding the proposed new standards, it was noted that a letter expressing concerns was recently sent to city council leaders by the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio (BIA).

Fulton said a similar letter was sent to Canal Winchester by the BIA.

In the letter addressed to Board Chairman Todd Barstow and Vice Chairman Tim Hickin and signed by BIA Executive Director Jon Melchi, some concerns are raised about certain aspects of the proposed new standards, including the materials standards for construction.

Melchi writes: “The BIA understands that the city has imposed a moratorium on the submission of new residential development plans so that it can assess the feasibility of imposing an impact fee on developments, implement a comprehensive new plan and update residential design standards. While the BIA may object to the use of a moratorium to achieve these goals, it certainly understands that communities should continue to re-evaluate their regulatory environment to ensure they strike the right balance for the community.

The letter goes on to state, “We believe the standards, as presently written, will have a chilling effect on house building in Pataskala and urge the following changes.”

These proposed changes and/or concerns include the assertion that the requirement that a manufacturer have nine different models in a development sets “a threshold that many manufacturers don’t have.”

Acknowledging the city’s objection to blank walls, she asks that water tables — architectural features that direct water away from foundations — be considered a design feature.

The BIA also questioned the standard to be imposed on the gauge of vinyl siding for new construction, asking that the proposed gauge of 0.046 be instead set at 0.044mm, “which is well above the standard for most of central Ohio…and would equal that of other communities, like Dublin.

Council member Andy Walther asked Fulton if Canal Winchester had had any problems with developers since adopting its standards.

Fulton said, “It just hasn’t happened yet”, stating that Canal is still working on proposed developments before the new standards are adopted.

The proposed new standards are scheduled for two more readings at Pataskala’s next two regular council meetings, and then will likely go to council for a vote after the third and final reading.