Weatherford Democrat

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October 30, 2013

After final public input session, downtown plan now goes to P&Z

(Continued)

Other sub-points include facade restoration downtown, which received overwhelming support, along with purchasing properties near downtown that would help expand the downtown area, such as Heritage Park.

Residents saw the DBA creation and getting criteria for the NEZ to be very important in the short term.

Compatibility

Director of Planning and Development Craig Farmer said adopting current national building codes, instead of the ones adopted in 2003 by Weatherford, would actually make for easier historic preservation. Creating a downtown coordination team of city, county and chamber officials to ensure projects are getting done and perhaps create more was very popular in residents’ eyes as well.

Perhaps the most popular idea would be the creation of a parking garage and public restrooms. Downtown business owner Sherry Watters said it would be nice to have an area where customers could use restrooms and not have to change a diaper on a public bench, like she has seen happen.

The two areas wouldn’t necessarily have to be connected but just to have them both downtown was considered a short-term goal. Farmer said his department has been contacted with a location for a parking garage but nothing else has been decided.

Paying for the projects could come from a number of areas, including grants, private investors and other entities as well as city funds. Farmer said a bond issue may also need to be considered for some of the projects. Beefing up code enforcement in the downtown area to ensure any renovations blends with what is already there was also considered.

Better defining the downtown area with signs along North and South Main and U.S. Highway 180 was also seen as important in the short term. Having mixed-use centers, such as residential lofts over retail shopping, was given a positive response but with codes needing to change, is not something that would be done in the short term.

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