Tag Archives: code review

Council approves new zoning law

With a unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Kerrville City Council adopted a brand new Zoning Code that includes some extensive changes to both the rules and the map. This adoption is the culmination of a year-long process of re-working the code by the Code Review Committee, the Planning & Zoning Commission, with input from the City Council, too.

Because of the multitude of changes in the new code, council admits that there will be issues that need to be addresses on a case-by-case basis, especially when it comes to nonconforming uses (when a property is being used for something that is not allowed in the new code). Council pointed out a six-month window during which property owners can bring up their objections with Drew Paxton, Executive Director of Development Services, and staff can begin to address those concerns.

Why is a zoning code important? A city’s zones establish where certain types of buildings, businesses, residences, factories, merchants, and service centers can operate, as well as how the buildings should look, what kind of parking they need to provide, and how the land use will fit within the larger surrounding neighborhoods and community as a whole. Zoning is one of the most important functions of a city’s planning department, which hopes to encourage responsible growth while protecting the quality of life for its current inhabitants. Cities are authorized to regulate zoning via Section 211 of the Texas Local Government Code.

A portion of the new zoning map. The entire map is available to view here: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/411739/20190813_Map_Future-Zoning.pdf

Notable Changes

  • Reduction in the number of zones from 49 to just 17
  • Cleaning up and re-writing rules for clarity and user-friendliness
  • Expansion of residential districts
  • Changes to the Downtown Arts and Cultural District (DAC)
  • Changes to land use table
  • Changes to zoning map

Opposition

Several landowners spoke against the ordinance, stating their objections with regards to specific properties that they own, including former mayor Bonnie White. Council members answered these concerns by admitting that there might be issues that need to be addressed, but that it was important to move ahead with the new code to solve a multitude of other problems with the previous zoning ordinance, all the while providing a forum for property owners to air their grievances and discuss their problems with city staff.

Process

The process of creating the new Zoning Code has taken place over the past year, with numerous opportunities for citizens to attend open houses, public meetings, and workshops with the Code Review Committee (CRC), the P&Z Commission, and Council. The CRC met nine times in public meetings; the P&Z joined Council for a workshop in March; and a community open house was held in May. P&Z held a public hearing on August 13 and received public comments.

During all of these meetings and during this review period, the public was encouraged to provide feedback, comments, and suggestions. The city’s consultant also interviewed multiple stakeholders, business owners, landowners, and members of the general public. It is the opinion of this author that ample time and opportunity was given for public input, and we salute the city for their transparency during this process.

Next Steps

This was the second and final reading of this ordinance, so it is adopted as law. As noted, staff will work with individual property owners to address their concerns moving forward. And as always, P&Z and Council can grant variances and/or make changes to the code as needed in the future.

References

Video

Regular meeting held on August 27

Written by Aaron Yates

P&Z rejects proposal to increase size of electronic signs

During the regularly scheduled meeting of Kerrville’s Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday afternoon, commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current maximum size of electronic signage at 32 square feet, and also voted to adopt new language to clarify rules for other sign types in Kerrville and the extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The proposed changes presented by the Code Review Committee suggested enlarging the maximum allowed electronic signage to 64 square feet for businesses with certain road frontage. However, the commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current 32 square foot maximum after hearing from over a dozen community members that spoke out against the proposed enlargement.

Approximately 16 citizens, businesspersons, and community representatives addressed the commission with their thoughts on electronic signage in general and the proposed rule changes specifically. All but two persons spoke against enlarging the allowed size of electronic signs. Two individuals spoke in support of the proposed rule changes to allow the larger signs — Walt Koenig of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce and Cory Traub of Pro Tech Signs & Graphixx.

After listening to the public comments, commissioners proposed several changes to the proposed ordinance that will now be submitted to the City Council for consideration and discussion. Changes included maintaining the maximum electronic signage at 32 square feet, maintaining the current duration of electronic messages at four seconds, and also some other minor changes to language regarding awning signs. The council will oversee a three-step process including a public hearing and two readings of the proposed changes to the ordinance. Community members will have a chance to speak again when council considers the ordinance presented to them by the P&Z.

Electronic signs have been the topic of much debate in Kerrville in recent months. Several businesses and organizations had submitted variance requests for larger electronic signs or other types of signage that was not in compliance with the current statutes. The topic was a point of discussion leading up to May’s city council elections. The Code Review Committee, an ad hoc city commission made up of approximately 15 citizens, had worked on changes to the Zoning Code, Sign Ordinance, and other matters, from October 2018 through July 2019.

References

Written by Aaron Yates of Kerrville United

Code Review Committee “Open House” scheduled for Thursday

The Kerrville 2050 comprehensive plan was adopted in June 2018, and one of the recommendations from that process was to create a Code Review Committee to update the zoning ordinance, zoning map, subdivision ordinance, and development standards (which includes the landscape ordinance, sign ordinance, and night skies ordinance). The group, made up of citizens and community leaders, has been meeting since October, and this Thursday will hold an open house to present their progress to the community and to gather feedback with regards to their work so far.

The open house is schedule for 5 PM to 7 PM at the Dietert Center on Guadalupe Street in Kerrville. This come-and-go event will be open to the public with a short presentation at 5:20 PM.

Why it’s important

Because the city’s codes have an impact on almost everything that happens in our city, the importance of this committee’s work cannot be overstated. So many of the complaints about any city revolve around building codes, zoning, and development regulations. Many of these laws have not seen a major update since 2011. This committee’s goals include making those laws clear and concise, as well as implementing and enforcing them uniformly and fairly. According to the committee’s official charge, the goals include:

…Improve overall functionality and practicality of the City’s ordinances, and to reflect the vision established in the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan. The primary objective of developing these updated ordinances is to establish a set of standards/guidelines and procedures for development that builds upon the existing character of the community while supporting economic development and overall livability.

Scope of Services, Code Review Committee

Now is the time to review this committee’s work and offer feedback, criticism, encouragement, and recommendations.

Who is on the committee?

The volunteer committee members include citizens and leaders with a wide variety of occupations, experience, and perspectives. The list includes:

  • Danny Almond
  • David Martin
  • Wendy Anderson
  • Alex Monroe
  • Kim Clarkson
  • Bill Morgan
  • Peter Lewis
  • Mary Ellen Summerlin
  • Ruben Exum
  • Sue Tiemann
  • John Fleckenstein
  • Doyle Weaver
  • Sandra Garcia
  • Mike Wellborn
  • Larry Howard

What happens next?

Following this open house, the committee will continue its work in creating draft documents, maps, and recommendations. According to the project schedule (pictured below), the committee will present their work for adoption by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council in August 2019.

Project schedule for Code Review Committee.

Takeaways

  • This open house is one of the few times when the general public is welcomed to review the work of this “blue ribbon” committee while the work is still in progress.
  • Too often, citizens only begin to offer feedback when a matter is before the City Council. However, this type of work and modifications takes place over many months, and it is appropriate and encouraged to begin to offer feedback at this time.
  • In addition to offering feedback, community members should thank and congratulate the volunteer committee members for taking on this important work.

References

Information, agendas, and documents used by the committee

Article in Hill Country Community Journal