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Map of the Setbacks | Download Ordinance (PDF)

Please note that this ordinance has been passed by City Council and is in effect begining November 16, 2016.

What is a Riparian Setback?
Riparian setbacks are specific recommendations or regulations (zoning ordinances) that protect areas along the banks of rivers, streams and wetlands (riparian areas) from construction impacts or other damaging activities. The streams and rivers can be as large as the Cuyahoga River or as small as a stream flowing intermittently through a woodland.

What are the purpose and benefits of this ordinance?
Establishing protected Riparian setback areas help protect our streams, lakes and wetlands by doing the following:

  • Promote natural flood control
  • Assist in stabilizing stream banks to reduce erosion
  • Promote well vegetated areas to reduce the amount of pollutants entering streams
  • Protects aesthetically pleasing areas
  • Provides green space and improves property values

How were the Riparian Setback areas identified?
Riparian setback areas are established based on the 100-year floodplain and the amount of storm runoff (rain and snow) draining from a particular location to the water channel. Setbacks range from 25ft. to 300ft. depending on how much water is draining to the water channel.

What uses are allowed in the Riparian Setback?

  • Permitted Without Permit
    • Passive recreational uses
    • Removal of damaged/diseased trees; control of noxious weeds
    • Revegetation and reforestation
    • Maintenance of lawns, gardens, landscaping
  • Permitted With Permit
    • Streambank stabilization and erosion control measures
    • Crossings public/private roads, drives, utility lines approved by Engineering
    • Fencing

What uses are NOT allowed in the Riparian Setback?

  • Construction
  • Dredging or dumping
  • Roads/drives without permit; parking lots, motor vehicle use
  • Disturbance of vegetation unless noted above

What if I already have a structure within the setback area?
The Riparian Setback ordinance has a "Grandfather Clause". This means that any structure or use in existence before passage of the Riparian Setback ordinance would be allowed to continue. However, no future changes would be permitted to the use or structure.

Are there any exceptions to the "Grandfather Clause"?

  • If a structure or use is discontinued or abandoned for 6 or more months it may not be restored.
    • This does not apply to a vacant residence that is not subject to condemnation
  • A 10 foot maintenance access zone may be allowed as long as vegetation disturbance is minimized
  • The Director of Building and Housing may allow minor upgrades to extend up to 10 feet toward the waterway if the modification will not impair the function of the riparian zone

Is there a way to appeal the decision of the Director of Building and Housing?

  • Appeals may be filed with the Board of Zoning Appeals

How is my property value affected?

Nobody's property values are maintained if their house or garage is in danger of being flooded or is about to collapse into a stream channel due to stream bank erosion. "Green" properties with a water view from a safe distance are the properties with the highest values.

The communities in Northeast Ohio that have the most park like settings are the communities with the highest property values.

What are the penalties if I ignore the required setbacks?

  • Violation of this regulation is guilty of misdemeanor of the first degree
  • Each day of noncompliance shall be deemed a separate offense

I still have questions about this, who can I contact?

You can contact the City Planning Commission.

Here is our Contact Information:

Phone: 216-664-3801

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