ZPC to Review Recent Changes to Zoning Rules

The West University Place Zoning and Planning Commission will review the city’s recent adoption of new zoning regulations for commercial properties at a meeting scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

The ZPC is reviewing the controversial changes at the request of West U resident Janine Schueppert, who opposed the new zoning rules when they were approved by the West U City Council in early March.

City planner Debbie Scarcella said Schueppert asked the ZPC to review the ordinance, which was the result of a year-long effort to revise regulations for the commercial properties in the Town Center Commercial District in the center of the city and other non-residential properties on the periphery of West U.

The ZPC’s agenda includes: “Discussion regarding matters relating to the process of the recent adoption of amendments to the non-residential (SFD) portions of the zoning ordinance, including the periphery commercial and townhome areas, town center commercial areas, zoning map, comprehensive plan and other related matters. Discussion may include ways to improve the process, communications, public involvement and options to look at and discuss possible amendment proposals to the new provisions. “

Schueppert and other West U residents complained vociferously when the council approved the new zoning rules. They were primarily concerned about parking requirements in the new zoning rules, particularly in the Town Center District on Edloe St., across from West U Elementary School.

After the March 9 council meeting meeting, Schueppert said she intended to collect signatures from West U residents in an effort to overturn the new zoning ordinance.

The council gave preliminary approval to the new zoning rules, by a 4-1 vote, on February 24. They were finally approved on March 9, with the only dissenting vote from then-Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample.

The council and the ZPC held a joint public hearing on the zoning changes in early February. In

addition, the ZPC held two town hall meetings about the proposed zoning changes in September, 2014. One of the town hall meetings was in the afternoon, and a second meeting was held in the evening.

Several West U residents expressed concern that the Town Center Commercial district could become “a mall” across the street from the elementary school.

Schueppert complained that the new zoning ordinance would allow the businesses in Town Center to “expand from about 8,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet, while maintaining their 52 parking spaces.”

Schueppert and others claimed that “developers” wanted the changes to the Town Center area.

“The city needs to keep zoning control for our town and not let developers write the rules,” Schueppert said in March.