Updated Zoning Codes Needed In Lakewood

About two weeks ago, Jill Laemmerhirt asked the Lakewood Planning Board for a special use permit to open an adult novelty store in a Fairmount Avenue plaza.

The plan was dead by Monday. Now, on May 13, the Lakewood Village Board will have a public hearing to have a moratorium on special use permits for proposed adult novelty stores so village officials can address the issue in the village’s zoning code.

They have a long list of things to address, given the village’s existing moratoriums on special permits for vehicle sales, building permits for constructing storage sheds and zoning permits for electronic advertising signs. That’s a pretty good sized list for a small village.

The fairly regular use of moratoriums in Lakewood is starting to reek of piecemeal zoning rather than a well thought out, well crafted plan.

Lakewood has become a hotbed for car dealers both large and small over the years, which makes us wonder why village officials hadn’t thought it would be a good idea to make sure the zoning code included some language to govern where car dealerships were located in the village. We admit the village isn’t overwhelmed with proposals to open adult-themed businesses. Still, given the public outcry in the area whenever such a business is proposed, it seems reasonable that nearly every zoning jurisdiction would have already dealt with adult businesses in their zoning codes.

Zoning codes are one way a community can ensure certain types of businesses and activities are placed in locations acceptable to the community. It’s good that the codes are revisited occasionally to make sure potentially divisive topics are handled appropriately and that village residents have an opportunity for public comment. Regular reviews and well-reasoned zoning codes are an important tool for municipal planners.

Rather than moratoriums and revisiting the code when a controversial proposal rears its head, the village should start being more proactive in keeping its zoning law up to date. It will make the development process easier for new business while saving everyone involved a lot of headaches.