The Design Review Board- The Process-AND

July 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm 20 comments

Style Center Kharisma

Due to issues raised re 418 Broadway and the signage fiasco covered here

and the ensuing posts

Gary Fischer – Chairman of the Design Review Board wrote a “guest post” explaining the powers etc of the DRB.

Whilst formatting the post for publication and adding photos I randomly pulled up an example of a building

926 Broadway – This building on checking with the Lorain County Auditors site belongs to the LORAIN FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE LODGE 3.
926 Broadway

You will not see this building in the aforementioned post because checking with Mr. Fischer I found it was in the process of being renovated and going through the “processes in place”
926 Broadway  Propeosed
The owners of the building( 926 Broadway) originally wanted to completely close the front and the guidelines and the board prevented the bricking up of the façade. The board also authorized the partial removal of the old coverings which allowed restoration rather than replacement of the front and it actually will save construction cost.

The process is supposed to work as follows- Gary Fischer- Chairman of the Design Review Board


Owners of commercial buildings renovating, building new or changing appearance, color, signage, trim, windows, landscaping, etc. submit drawings and photographs of the building and the surrounding buildings to the Design Review Board Secretary with the application. Note: routine maintenance is not covered and can be performed at any time.

The fallback is if an owner submits for permit then they are informed by the Building Dept. that they need DRB approval. It is noted on the application.

A meeting is scheduled within two weeks. ( Usually sooner)

The administrator looks over the application and will usually contact the chair if it’s a very minor change and could be handled administratively. If its determined that the change is minor, (Think of a person changing the name of the business, (text) but using the same sign panel.)then the approval is usually granted and the permit is issued.

In the case of a larger project, renovation or new construction, the package is sent to the DRB for review. The applicant attends the meeting and the project is discussed with the full board. The project can be approved as submitted, approved with contingencies, or denied.

If it is denied,(usually with suggestions on alternates that could result in approval) the applicant can re-submit. Sometimes things are held in abeyance if there is missing information or at the request of the owner. The item would then be reviewed at the next meeting or whenever the complete information is received. If the project is denied the owner has the right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.

The important thing to note is that there are specific, published guidelines that are available from Community Development.




I do not know of ANY larger communities that do not have at least minimal design review. Many communities have design review for residential properties! Design review standards have been upheld in the supreme court. (check out City of Lakewood vs DeLorian Cadillac).

This latest go around with 418 Broadway is not the first time I have had concerns with this building the “dancing-girls of yore” were a concern in 1996 :)so Mr. Dye’ needn’t feel picked upon for his latest version of what is “good” for business of Lorain and this area 🙂 And NO there were no “dancing-girls” scrubbing ( graffiti at least) that year 😉

dancing fool

Dancing fool 2


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Charleston Village, city of lorain. Tags: , , , , , , , .

– The POS and Nuisance Ordinance- A lesson in history Veteran’s MEMORIAL Park- a neglected disgrace AGAIN!

20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rich Robbin  |  July 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Great. Very informative!

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    maybe we should have stuck to dancing girls isn’t that art somewhere 😉

  • 3. Brian  |  July 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Are there “specific published guidelines that can be followed”? I would be interested in seeing what exactly is considered SPECIFIC?

    I can see the reasoning of wanting to have the DRB, but creating a committee of folks to tell others what to do with their properties can be viewed as more of a roadblock to development than an asset.

    Beyond the basic acceptance of Roberts Rule of Order, does the DSB have a clearly written mission statement, a clearly written purpose statement, and a written set of bylaws beyond saying that they follow Roberts Rule of Order?

    In my humble opinion, if the three things that I mentioned above have not been established, the DRB is nothing more than a social club that hinders development.

  • 4. Brian  |  July 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    The reference to the “dancing ladies” mentioned in this article has NOTHING to do with the DRB. It’s a zoning issue that brings up another issue. Could the city accomplish the same thing as the DRB by updating the outdated zoning ordinances.

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Brian have you read the article??? the guidelines are there in the post you you are not making any sense sorry you have to read and stop speculating

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    the dancing girls ( are mentioned in the jpg) of the article written in 1996 it was to show I have been doing this for a long time even before you and the design review board stop scanning and start reading 🙂

  • 7. Brian  |  July 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I read the article, and read the others. I again state my question. Where are the actual WRITTEN organizational guidelines, by laws, mission statement and purpose statement of the board of citizens.

    If they don’t exist, it is merely a club.

    It is not hard to see that in other communities where things happen, they have these things in place. Where are the rules for the rule makers?


  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Where it says



    There is a PDF file in the article ….. with the guidelines written…….. and if you have a problem with the DRB being a club what did you do about it when it was intitiated YONKS ago and with their mission statement ……Sorry no patience today .. I am tired……

  • 9. Brian  |  July 12, 2013 at 2:21 am

    I am sure glad that the city wide design review guidelines DON”T cover the entire city. That sure does make it sooooooo clear!!!! A good zoning code would clear most of the problem up, but if this works for you, I am glad.

    However, you asked the question about what I did? I saw first hand what happens when a committee of appointed citizens get politically appointed to a board without bylaws, a mission statement and a defined purpose. How’s the cities planning and zoning review process coming along?.

    You win. I am done offering suggestions.

  • 10. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 12, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Brian the Design Review Board in the last year is city wide for COMMERCIAL buildings… and where is the Oh sorry I didn’t see the “written” guidelines and mission statement etc……. no just ging off at me and whomever …. I don’t get your point you are trying to make maybe I am dense…. you don’t offer suggestions you are just say what is wrong where are your solutions …. copy and paste!!!

  • 11. Brian  |  July 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    My suggestion is that instead of creating more “rules” because the ones we have cannot be enforced is to look at why the “rules” are ineffective. The statement that the document that is posted by the DRB is city wide is a misstatement. It says it is city wide EXCEPT for the downtown area. Therefore, right on the first page of the document it creates confusion. It has exclusions for SOME industrial construction practices, so the folks that drive down 28th street and anywhere along the rail lines which is mostly industrial are excluded. Why?

    It mentions that the objectives of chapter 1185 have to be met. What the hell is chapter 1185? What exactly is the area of the downtown preservation district and why isn’t that spelled out in the same document?

    This is where I believe that the city and the DRB need to have a pow-wow and say that the folks that review the projects that come before them should get more specific with what they are trying to accomplish. I think that before the folks of the DRB start thinking about how they can wield more power that they need to look at their organizational rules. You want me to say I am sorry for not seeing the guidelines and mission statement, but I am still looking for clear guidelines and the mission statement is something would be in the organizational rules of the board, not the document that you posted.

    The DRB is not a committee, it is a board that casts judgement on others, like a jury. Therefore the rules of the board beyond Roberts Rule of Order should be clear, which right now, they are not.

    Lets look at the guidlines that you posted again. The guidelines say that EIFS is not an accepted exterior of a building, but other communities create wonderful looking buildings with this type of system. The new Regal Cinema at Great Northern that is COMPLETELY being built right now is all EIFS. Millions of dollars are being invested in another community that is creating jobs right now that will create millions of dollars of additional revenue in sales creating additional tax revenue for the city, the county, and the state. On top of that, it gives the folks that live there a quality of life activity to do. Isn’t something like this exactly what the residents of Lorain are wanting?

    One could say that the circumstances are different in North Olmsted, and they are, but to create an unnecessary hurdle or roadblock for new development in Lorain makes those that would consider investing in Lorain less likely.

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Actually I agree and I sent a email to the administration etc. few weeks ago with how other communities have set up a deign review board… I believe the Board needs tightening up and also rules ( with “enforceable accountability ” need to happen

    From that email:

    Design review board members shall have qualifications, skills or a demonstrated interest in urban design or historic preservation and must be able to demonstrate the ability to read and interpret site plans, elevation drawings, landscape plans, architectural details and other design details and specifications as may be depicted on plans . Members shall be selected by the council who conform to the following qualifications and create a balance of talent and diversity:

    1. A licensed architect or professional building designer with demonstrated experience in urban or historic building design.

    2. A city resident with demonstrated interest and knowledge of urban design;

    3. A business owner with such business physically located within the city ( I suppose that was Cathy Dye??)

    4. A member with a professional background relating to urban design (e.g., a professional artist (with color expertise), a civil or environmental engineer, planner, building contractor ( in Lorain that is so iffy)or professional designer) as determined by the city council;

    5. A member with demonstrated interest in and knowledge of landscaping, horticulture, arboriculture or forestry;

    6. A student member with an expressed interest in architecture. After all the youth are our future “
    So you see our thoughts are not out of line.

    I agree and have agreed for the past 11 years you have discussed this with me the zoning needs a complete overhaul….. no argument there .

    AND those that sit on these Boards ALSO NEED TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN RULES !!! They cannot ask of others what they are not doing themselves……..

  • 13. Brian  |  July 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm


  • 14. paula  |  July 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    ummmm Brian,

    Word to the wise:

    Don’t poke the sleep(y)ing Bear.

  • 15. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    especially when the she bear ( I said bear 🙂 had to rescue her husband from being face down in the middle of the fish pond… during the whole dialogue – oh my life is so calming

  • 16. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Also today is the anniversary of when the vipers first entered my life…… I should’ve known that day -the vibes were there .I didn’t pay attention and I have suffered their control ever since so no I am not in a good mood………

  • 17. Brian  |  July 13, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Maybe it would be better if I quit commenting.My intention isn’t to upset anyone.

  • 18. Loraine Ritchey  |  July 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    no don’t mind me just sometimes it is more difficult the deal than other days .your thoughts are most welcome ……

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