(a)   Purpose. Without limiting the generality of the Planning and Zoning Code, the City's interest in regulating the design of individual buildings and sites in the Town Center Districts, specifically TCD-1 through TCD-5, is determined in part by the extent to which they affect the public realm and the high quality character of the City. Council has determined, through adoption of the Master Plan, that the City desires an architectural theme in the buildings constructed in the Town Center, particularly in TCD-1 through TCD-5. As such, the City has established a goal to maintain a high quality of buildings, including but not limited to architectural quality and character. These Architectural Design Standards ("standards") have been adopted in pursuit of these goals.
   (b)   Principles. Without limiting the generality of the Planning and Zoning Code, the purpose of these standards is to protect the character of North Royalton's TCD-1 through TCD-5 Zoning Districts and to preserve a high-quality built environment throughout the Town Center area. Six principles are listed below. These principles are a summary of the values that people in North Royalton found to be most important in establishing the character of the Town Center. These principles are policies that provide the foundation of both the standards and the architectural review process. The Planning Commission shall look upon these principles as a framework for making discretionary decisions.
      (1)   The creation and maintenance of the public realm takes precedence over individual buildings.
         A.   The public realm is that space occupied both in physical and visual terms by the public. It is created by such elements as the parts of the building that are visible from the street, the front yard, the sidewalk, street trees and lighting, and the street itself.
         B.   The Town Center, especially the TCD-1 through TCD-5 areas, will strongly influence the character of the City. These areas of the City have a very diverse architecture, the City expects the future development of these areas to be held together by a strongly defined public realm. The public realm will be clearly delineated by the consistency of higher density development, sidewalks and the shorter setback of buildings from the street. The rhythm of the buildings, the civic and institutional uses or structures provides another dimension of unity. The public realm in all areas of the Town Center needs to have similar delineation, although the particular dimensions and details are scaled to new kinds of buildings and lot patterns.
      (2)   Buildings shall maintain a high level of architectural quality. Architectural quality does not refer to specific style or details, but to the general level of composition, materials and design integrity. These standards are meant to encourage a general style of Western Reserve building within the Town Center, TCD-1 through TCD-5 of the City. Quality building design is a complicated matter which needs to balance many competing requirements.
      (3)   The site plan and building shall respect the land and the environment in which they are placed. An attractive city takes advantage of its natural setting. Buildings should be sited to minimize regrading and to take advantage of natural features, including mature trees. For the most part, environmental issues are covered by the City's Planning and Zoning and Building Code.
      (4)   There shall be architectural variety within a defined framework. The Town Center District should display a high degree of variety in its buildings. The overall environment is nonetheless coherent because of the strength of the urban framework and a general uniformity of building scale. Variety within this coherent framework enriches the public realm.
      (5)   New buildings and alterations shall respect the existing context and framework. The design of any building shall be judged in reference to its site and the character of its surroundings, not as an independent object. The site plan for all new buildings shall be prepared with a clear understanding of the framework that exists or is being created in a particular area, through development standards, zoning and other regulations.
      (6)   Coordination with zoning and development standards. The normal process of review of new building projects will require the applicant to satisfy zoning and development standards prior to being reviewed by the Planning Commission. Applicants are advised to review the Planning and Zoning Code. Many issues of design, especially siting, landscaping, direction of approach and building orientation may be determined under prior review.
   (c)   Procedures; Approval and Discretion of the Planning Commission.
      (1)   Proposals which the Planning Commission determines comply with the standards shall be approved. Without limiting the discretion of the Planning Commission to make judgments rendered in accordance with these standards, in no case shall an applicant be required to make changes to a proposal which are not supported by these standards. The Planning Commission may offer additional advice and suggestions at its discretion; however, such advice shall be clearly stated as such.
      (2)   In making architectural review decisions, the Planning Commission shall rely on the standards and, where it is unclear that a project fulfills the standards, the Planning Commission shall refer to the principles enumerated in division (b) of this section.
      (3)   The Planning Commission may waive any requirement of these standards in order to approve a proposed project, if the Planning Commission finds that the project fulfills the six principles enumerated in division (b) of this section and meets one of the following conditions:
         A.   The project is an exceptional design, meaning that it is either especially creative or it is designed in response to unique situation, such as a very difficult site or an unusual program requirement.
         B.   Exceptional and unique conditions exist that create a practical difficulty in complying with the requirements of these standards. The Planning Commission should consider the factors enumerated in determining “practical difficulty” as defined in the Planning and Zoning Code.
      (4)   The Planning Commission shall review only those elements of the building which contribute to its exterior appearance, including the massing, roof, facade, siting of the building and landscaping. All sides of a building will be reviewed for compliance with these standards; however, the public faces of a building may be held to a higher standard. “Public faces” shall be defined as the front facade and the two sides adjoining the front facade.
      (5)   Elevations shall be designed to resemble 25-foot to 40-foot segments/bays. Segments/bays shall be in proportion to the size of the overall tenant and/or building. This includes all area from ground to top of roof/parapet. This includes both the vertical plane of the building as well as the horizontal plane.
      (6)   No more than one story difference in height shall be between any two neighboring building volumes/structures/bays. Building volume/structure/bays shall be in proportion to each other and with the entire building envelope. One story shall consist of a height not greater than 10 feet, or to the maximum of 15 feet at the discretion of the Planning Commission.
      (7)   Changes in material, color, roofline, profile, detailing and fenestration shall occur at all 25 to 40-foot segments/bays. This includes both the vertical plane of the building as well as the horizontal plane.
      (8)   Buildings that are designed to be longer than 80 feet shall also have changes in plan/ horizontal in the building as to not allow long flat elevations. Changes shall occur at a segment/bay change for a minimum of the entire segment/bay.
      (9)   Any structure or building that is to be phased shall have a bond large enough to complete unfinished end wall. This bond shall stay in effect until the phased project is completed or used to complete the unfinished work. All phased projects shall not go unfinished for more than two years. All unfinished areas to be finished with like materials matching existing building and must be approved by the Planning Commission before work is started.
      (10)   Exterior materials for TCD-1 through TCD-5. The use of any material that has been used in the style of Western Reserve, or the like of, is highly recommended. Listed are materials that will be allowed under limited use/amounts. Limitations shall be based on proportion of the building or structure, the segmented/bay areas, building heights and the overall scope of the building or structure.
         A.   E.I.F.S. material. Residential areas in TCD-1 through TCD-5 shall be permitted a larger proportion of this material with the approval of Planning Commission.
         B.   Stucco material. Residential areas in TCD-1 through TCD-5 shall be permitted a larger proportion of this material with the approval of Planning Commission.
         C.   Metal siding.
         D.   Metal panels.
      (11)   Materials not permitted in TCD-1 through TCD-5 areas:
         A.   Thin brick, or any material resembling true face brick.
         B.   Split face, other than as a base around a building or structure four feet or lower from grade.
         C.   Standard/painted/colored CMU.
         D.   Reflective glazing.
         E.   Glass block.
         F.   Vinyl siding. Residential areas in TCD-1 through TCD-5 may be permitted a proportion of this material with the approval of the Planning Commission.
      (12)   Lighting requirements.
         A.   Rear parking lots can utilize taller, more typical light poles.
         B.   Any parking lot visible from a main thoroughfare needs shorter, historic-styled light poles of a consistent type.
         C.   Main roads in TCD-1 through TCD-5 need to be lit with streetlights.
         D.   Use of sodium lamps is prohibited.
         E.   No parking lot lighting is to be mounted to buildings, with the exception of service alleys.
         F.   Ground lighting is not be used to highlight tenant display windows.
      (13)   Signs.
         A.   Streetpole-mounted environmental graphics are acceptable, but cannot be tenant-specific.
         B.   The downtown area developer must create and enforce tenant signage/graphics guidelines.
      (14)   Streets.
         A.   Designed per City building code.
         B.   The major street should be a boulevard with a landscaped median strip.
         C.   Any parking on the boulevard should be parallel parking only.
         D.   Any public entrance onto a city street should have a landscaped median.
      (15)   Surface parking lots.
         A.   Surface lots should be small and strategically located to allow easy access to retail/office buildings, and not be conspicuous or the predominant focus.
         B.   The perimeter of surface lots should be screened with landscaping.
         C.   Lots should have landscape islands at the beginning and end of the parking bays.
         D.   Landscape islands should also be located throughout the lot (i.e., no more than 30 contiguous spaces without a landscape island).
         E.   Landscape islands in the parking lots should be at least the size of one parking space.
      (16)   Parking structures.
         A.   Parking structures should be inconspicuous, approved materials for facades, should complement surrounding buildings.
         B.   Kneewalls are required for parking structures located within TCD's-1 through TCD-5.
      (17)   Trees.
         A.   A tree master plan should be developed for the entire site showing year-round interest.
         B.   Street trees used should be 4-feet to 6-feet caliper at chest height.
         C.   Spacing of street trees should be no greater than 30 feet on center, with consideration given to specific tree character and growth pattern.
      (18)   Walks/hardscape.
         A.   Next to retail/office buildings, the pedestrian walks should be 12 feet minimum, other walks 6 feet minimum.
         B.   Between the street curb and the pedestrian walks a landscape/hardscape zone should be a minimum of 5 feet wide and alternately include any landscape plantings, site furnishing items, and have a minimal of 10% varied materials, color or finish.
      (19)   Site furnishings. Site furnishings including outdoor seating, trash receptacles, smoking urns, telephone booths, mailboxes, light poles, bicycle racks, public space bollards, etc., must be uniform and fit the character of the buildings. No plastic or fiberglass should be used.
(Ord. 06-89. Passed 11-8-06; Ord. 13-152. Passed 2-4-14.)