Council: Zoning rule may create financial hurdle

By Traci Chapman
Published on February 21, 2008

One section of a proposed list of zoning changes hit a stone wall Tuesday when City Council members voiced concern it might hurt future development by placing too much of a financial burden on developers.

The proposed changes, based on recommendations from Richard Rolison, Mustang community development director, and his staff ranged from landscaping buffer requirements to the resizing of commercial lot requirements.

But it was a new rule related to requirements for screening between businesses and residential or agricultural properties that drew Council members’ concern. The section was deleted by Council members before the other zoning requirements were approved.
The deleted section will be “revisited” by city staff and brought back before Council in a revised form within the next month.

Ward 1 City Councilman Jay Adams said getting the zoning changes in place is crucial, and time is of the essence because a number of people “have been waiting for months” to move forward on construction projects.

Mayor Jeff Landrith agreed.

“I think we could knock this thing out in two to four weeks,” he said. “I think we should be able to do it in two, but certainly in four.”

The buffering requirement hit a wall when Council members could not agree on a requirement that owners of commercial property developing at a location abutting residential development must erect a “stone, brick, masonry block or split-faced masonry block” fence along that property line. If passed, this would change the code’s current requirement of a “sight-proof” six-foot fence along the property line.

Rolison said the change — designed to create not only a better sound barrier but also more aesthetic screening between residential and commercial developments — is in line with his vision of making Mustang a “destination.”

Council members expressed concern that while the measure would be appropriate for certain lots, it could be cost prohibitive for developers of larger lots because the cost of a masonry fence would be so much higher than the currently required wooden fence.

“I want to protect neighbors, but we also need to look to see if this is affordable for all businesses — this type of fence,” Ward 6 Councilman Len Scott said. “Let’s study it, and let’s do it right.”

Rolison presented the proposed code revisions to the planning commission on Jan. 22 and to Council on Feb. 5. The revisions, which were drafted into an ordinance by City Attorney Jonathan Miller, addressed what Rolison called “outdated” zoning requirements and “gaping holes” within the codes. All of the changes pertain to commercial properties.

A working group of Adams, Ward 2 Councilman Scott Gibson and Ward 4 Councilman Keith Bryan plan to meet with Rolison and City Manager David Cockrell to hammer out a “balanced” screening requirement.

Cockrell and Rolison said decisions also need to be made about fencing requirements between commercial and agricultural properties.

Zoning changes adopted by Council Tuesday include:
• Removal of the requirement for a minimum lot area of 10,000 square feet. In areas zoned C-2 — “commercial neighborhood traffic” — buildings can only cover 40 percent of the total lot area, which is not a change from current code.
• Removal of maximum building coverage requirements for parcels zoned C-3, C-4 and C-5.
• Reduction of C-4 minimum lot sizes from one acre to 12,000 square feet.
• Increased set back, from 30 feet to 50 feet in the front and from 25 feet to 35 feet on the side, for all commercial properties along a state highway.
• A 5-foot increase in the rear set back for properties adjacent to residential or agricultural parcels.
• Addition of a provision that drive-through speakers must be at least 35 feet from the rear property line. These speakers were not addressed in the previous codes at all.
• Addition of a 10-foot landscaping buffer at the rear and front of each commercial property and between 7.5 feet and 10 feet to the side of the property, depending on the location of the parcel. Specific spacing of trees within these buffers is also required in the new language.

The delay in changing fencing requirements would not impact the Taco Mayo development, Rolison said. Taco Mayo has already pledged to build a stone masonry wall on its property located at the corner of state Highway 152 and North Maryella Terrace.

Residents along Maryella Terrace objected to a request from Taco Mayo developers to change zoning of the proposed location from C-2 to C-3. Council approved that request Feb. 5.
In other business, Council:
• Accepted a $40,700 bid from The Library Corporation for an automation system for the Mustang Public Library. Library Director Desiree Webber said the new system will allow users to request extended book checkouts online and includes an e-mail notification system when books become available.
• Voted to rescind the sale of a lot on West Kyle Way to Habitat for Humanity because of a fence encroachment issue. Habitat Chair Ann Felton said the encroachment made the lot too small to build a house on. “We were really sad about it because we had a family for the house,” she said.
• Approved vacating “13 or 14 easements in the Peachtree Village PUD haphazardly filed about 20 years ago,” Rolison said. No one objected to the proposal.


Special Sections