Section: News

Village Council approves long-debated zoning ordinance

A new zoning ordinance, which bars short-term rentals not owned by permanent residents, was approved by the Gambier Village Council on Monday night. The Council also discussed the wastewater utility fee and a proposed nature play area.

The Council took up the hotly-debated adjustment to the Village zoning code tabled at last month’s meeting. The most recently updated code now allows short-term rentals on properties only when the owner resides at that property for a minimum of 10 months a year or maintains an address in the Village as their official residence. Currently operational short-term rentals where the owner doesn’t meet one of these requirements will be grandfathered in, allowing the owner to continue operations. These operations are dependent on the owner maintaining property ownership and applying for a waiver to the updated requirements by Sept. 3.  

However, debate over the new zoning ordinance was not over: The Council then took up the question of how many chickens should be permitted on a property. In its draft form, the code included no language about this. The Council could not settle on a number, so it tabled the discussion. 

The Council also heard from a Kenyon student, Khue Tran ’25, who has spent the semester as a stormwater utility analyst for the Village. Tran opened her presentation by explaining that the Village has not updated wastewater ordinance for a decade. To remedy this, she developed a program calculating updated charges for property owners, based on whether the property is commercial or residential and on the area of the property covered by impervious surfaces. The program can also be easily updated, allowing the Village to make further adjustments in the coming years. 

Tran reflected in an email to the Collegian that for her, the experience demonstrated how important it is to get involved with the local community. “It is a lot of fun knowing more about Gambier from the viewpoints of people who work and live here rather than staying in the Kenyon circle,” she wrote.

Throughout the meeting, the Council heard a number of familiar concerns about student behavior in the Village, including about loud parties, driving off of roads and parking in residential areas. Vice President for Facilities and Management Ian Smith described the persistent issue of students driving in walking paths as a “constant battle.” 

The Council also approved a proposal to contract for a planned nature playground, a play area that incorporates natural elements that repel water. The approval is conditional on the Village acquiring sufficient soil supply to complete the project. One Council member explained the thought behind the project: “This natural park is about using your imagination and playing with more than just a piece of something that someone has designed.” Some Council members raised concerns about the price tag on the project, which, at around $300,000, is higher than initially anticipated. The Council considered building part of the playground, at a cost of around $140,000, leaving the door open to complete it later. 

Village Council will next meet on June 5.


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