West U City Council, ZPC Hear from Residents about Town Center Zoning Changes

November 7, 2011

The West U City Council and the Zoning and Planning Commission heard from residents and property owners tonight about the proposed zoning changes to the West U Town Center.

Five people made comments or asked questions about the proposed zoning changes during a joint public hearing.

Scot Luther, a Southside Place resident and 50 percent owner of one of the properties in the town center said they are neighborhood people and are in favor of the proposed changes.

“We have no plans to do anything immediately,” Luther said about redeveloping his property. “This won’t happen for a long time frame.”

Tim Hansen, a Robinhood resident, wanted to know why residential uses weren’t considered in the town center.

ZPC Vice Chair and Town Center Ad Hoc Committee Chair Bruce Frankel said a residential use creates noise and light and they thought office over retail was the best combination.

Hansen also commented on the appearance of a unified development.

“I don’t want it unified and built up,” he said. “It’s like that everywhere else.”

The city council handed off the Town Center report to the ZPC after the Town Center Ad Hoc Committee presented it on Jan. 24. Council directed the ZPC to begin drafting proposals for zoning amendments to Edloe Street.

The proposed changes are recommended because in the event of a catastrophic loss, the buildings would lose prior non-conforming status. The current code allows 50 percent of the existing floor space to be reconstructed, which could lead to an economically blighted area.

The proposed amendments enable the retail area of the town center to be reconstructed or redeveloped through private investment.

The proposed zoning changes include:

–          Establish a definition and boundaries for the Town Center Retail District (TCDR)

–          Establish allowable uses in the TCDR

–          Establish regulations for front, side and rear yard (setbacks), visual buffering, maximum height of all structures, minimum parking requirements and exterior finishes of structures

–          Require the first floor of all structures to be at grade level

–          Allow for an above-grade parking structure for a unified development of two or more adjacent building sites and establish minimum standards for height limits, noise, lighting and exterior finishing materials.

Council is expected to postpone plans to rezone the town center until later in 2012.

Council directed staff in September to budget for a non-residential zoning study for the commercial areas in the city and asked that the town center be rolled into the project.

City Manager Michael Ross told InstantNewsWestU that the zoning ordinance needs to be “modernized and brought into the 21st century.” About $60,000 has been approved for the study in the city’s capital reserve fund, he said.

The city plans to hire a consultant who will be given the Town Center Ad Hoc Committee’s report.

Ross said the consultant will work with the Zoning and Planning Commission to bring recommendations to council in 2012. Revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance will require public hearings.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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