Kent Courthouse Project Easing Through Approval Process
Board of Zoning Appeals grants parking and setback variances for East Main Street site.
Portage County Commissioners were granted four variances Monday by the Kent Board of Zoning Appeals related to construction of a new Kent Municipal Courthouse building at 303 E. Main St., next to the Kent Historical Society.
The East Main Street parcel – previously home to a motel and currently a Jimmy John's sandwich shop that’s moving – will eventually house a two-story, 25,000-square-foot courthouse to replace the present court building on South Water Street.
The variances approved Monday will:
- Allow the new building to be 25.25 feet from the front property line instead of 30 feet as required by the city’s zoning code in a commercial – high-density multi-family residential district
- Allow the courthouse to have an 8-foot high fence enclosing its “sally port” at the rear of the building, where 6 feet is the maximum fence height permitted. The secure sally port is where judges will park and prisoners will be transferred to and from police vehicles and the courthouse.
- Allow the courthouse to have 132 parking spaces instead of the 144 required by code.
- Allow the new building to be located adjacent to residential uses. The property is surrounded by residential uses on the north and south and commercial uses on the east and west sides.
Allan Renzi of Richard L. Bowen & Associates in Cleveland told zoning board members Monday the courthouse structure can’t be moved further back on the “very tight” two-acre site due to the need for a swale in the parking lot to meet rainwater collection requirements.
The Kent Planning Commission will review the courthouse site plan on Aug. 7. Once approval is received, county commissioners can start the bidding process for construction of the long-planned courthouse.