Proposed changes to the zoning ordinance include wind turbine restrictions, exterior masonry building requirements and the creation of a heritage overlay district as the city attempts to revamp the current regulations. 

Dan Boutwell, of Municipal Planning Resources Group, presented five members of the planning and zoning commission with a draft of potential changes to the zoning ordinance Monday night during their regular meeting.

The zoning ordinance has not been updated since 1998, according to City Manager Lance Howerton.

Boutwell told the council no district or parcel on a map has been altered. 

“New regulations apply to new development from now on,” Boutwell said.

“It is important to note that the revision and update effort carefully considered the existing status of current zoned property and generally did not effect changes that will cause existing property to become non-conforming,” the planning and zoning commission was informed in a memo from Boutwell.

Regulations such as setbacks, heights and areas are essentially the same.

“We didn’t change anything that would throw people into non-compliance,” Boutwell said.

Some additional land uses were added to the permitted use table and some archaic uses were removed, Boutwell said. More terms were also defined, Boutwell said.

The planned development regulations, used in mixed-use development projects, were revamped to increase flexibility and give the city more control over the design and approval of the application.

Wind turbines

“Folks are starting to regulate wind generation,” Boutwell told the commission. Small and large wind turbines are addressed in the ordinance draft. 

Currently municipal regulation of wind turbines is all over the place, from a total ban of wind turbines to total freedom, Boutwell said. Wind turbines are allowed with certain restrictions in the draft ordinance. 

Some new technology is currently being developed which may not fall under current regulations but could be addressed with an amendment, Boutwell noted.

“Right now we are addressing those that seem to provide a real issue to us in development,” Boutwell said.

Aesthetic requirements

Landscape requirements for industrial-zoned businesses were scaled back to cover only areas located in the front yard areas visible to the public, the commission was informed.

Currently the standards require businesses to landscape 20 percent of a tract. 

A 20-acre business is now required to maintain landscaping on 4 acres, Howerton said. “Adhering to that just didn’t seem to work too well.”

However, another public aesthetic requirement has been added in the draft. 

The planned zoning ordinance adds masonry requirements for new construction both residential and non-residential districts.

Eighty percent of the structure of new residential construction would be required to be of masonry materials.  Non-residential commercial structures would be required to have 80 percent masonry construction on the front exterior wall and 50 percent of other walls. Only administrative buildings in industrial-type districts would have to meet the masonry requirement. 

The city has never regulated the types of construction materials used in projects before, according to Howerton.

“Maybe we need to tweak these numbers,” Howerton said. 

Heritage district

The new zoning ordinance also creates a heritage overlay district.

With the Baker Hotel renovation project progressing, a heritage district will allow the city to positively direct growth in the historic area, Howerton said.

Boutwell noted the overlay district intended to preserve the heritage of the area and is not a historical preservation district for reconstructing structures according to historic guidelines. 

The heritage overlay district would not apply to a specific place until the city approves boundaries. A heritage district organization would also need to be formed by a city ordinance and design standard guidelines established.

The draft only creates a district to be worked out at a future date, according to Boutwell.

Though members Richard Ball and Gene Ender noted a need for some requirements, such as the masonry guidelines, to take effect soon, no action was taken at the meeting Monday night to give the commission time to review the planned changes and make suggestions and provide opportunity for public input. 

At a future meeting, the commission will hold a public hearing before voting whether to recommend the city council approve the proposed zoning ordinance.

Staff Writer Christin Coyne can be reached at (940) 325-4465, ext. 3428, or ccoyne@mineralwellsindex.com.

 

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