Zachary officials are mulling changes to the city’s development code that could put stricter requirements on businesses’ building designs.
The City Council on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would make the standards for nonresidential and mixed-use buildings applicable to all such buildings, not just those located on main thoroughfares through town. Currently, that section of the code — which includes requirements like permanent, durable awnings and forbids metal buildings — is applied only to those buildings located on highways 19, 64, 67 and 964 or within 200 feet of them.
“It was meant to set standards for all buildings in the city,” not just those on major streets, city planner Amy Schulze said.
Mayor David Amrhein said he worries the proposed ordinance, which will be voted on at a later meeting, is too restrictive and would deter new businesses.
“We’re fixing to get in the business of making it so restrictive to come here that, who’s going to come here to build?” Amrhein said, adding that Zachary’s sales tax revenue has fallen in recent years and the city needs to attract more business.
Councilman Ben Cavin said it doesn’t make sense to apply the same standards to businesses located on main streets as those on side roads. He noted the council regularly approves similar variances to the code, and said the city needs to find fixes for those specific issues instead of applying a new blanket policy.
“Don’t apply those problems to all those corners of the city. That doesn’t make sense to me,” said Cavin, who described the current code as “broken.”
Councilman Brandon Noel, however, said the council can continue to work with businesses that ask for reasonable variances, even if the code is updated.
The proposed ordinance has been received favorably by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, city attorney John Hopewell said.
The council also introduced an ordinance that would allow businesses that need a conditional use permit to appear before the City Council for a hearing instead of going to the Planning and Zoning Commission. A common reason for obtaining a conditional use permit is setting up a home office for a business located elsewhere.
“We think it’s a good thing,” Schulze said. “People are coming to us wanting to get their licenses. We don’t want to make it any more difficult for them. If they go through Planning and Zoning, that’s a six-week process.”
Council members also voted to place “no parking” signs along Hemlock Street between 39th Street almost to Cedar Street. Police Chief David McDavid said he’s received complaints about people parking and blocking traffic on Hemlock Street when there are functions at the nearby Church of Christ and Zachary Elementary School.