Following joint meetings and public hearings, the Weatherford city council unanimously approved changes to its zoning regulations this week.
The new zoning regulations have a focus on residential districts, re-organization and updates, mixed-use development opportunities, tree preservation and landscaping, parking and fencing. There were also minor updates to sign regulations, food truck regulations and hotel/motel use.
“Staff, when moving forward with this request, went to the development advisory committee and took these items to them over the last year,” Weatherford Director of Development and Neighborhood Services Kaleb Kentner said. “We’ve also had multiple public hearings seeking input from the public into amending these zoning regulations and we also went through the planning commission and have their recommendation.”
The Weatherford planning and zoning commission recently approved the zoning regulation amendments, 6-0.
The changes include increasing minimum lot sizes for residential zoning districts — new single-family, 75 feet by 100 feet, 7,500 square feet, or 85 feet by 100 feet, 8,500 square feet; residential estate, 100 feet by 210 feet, 21,000 square feet; R1, 60 feet by 100 feet, 6,000 square feet; and agriculture, two acres minimum.
“We also recommend a minimum lot size for accessory dwelling units, which includes adding minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet for accessory dwelling units,” Kentner said. “We tried to meet all the requirements that were outlined over the last three joint meetings. The main ones we focused on were the residential areas, increasing two new single-family subdivisions.”
The zoning amendments include new design standards for garages. A front entry garage must be a minimum of 36 feet in length and 20 feet in width. The front door of the residence must be forward of the garage entry. A side entry garage must be a minimum of 24 feet in length and 20 feet in width and the front door of the residence must be forward of the garage entry. There is an option for a rear entry garage in conjunction with an alley.
Mixed-use of residential and commercial will be allowed in urban living, small lot single-family, townhomes, duplexes, condos, apartments, with local retail and neighborhood services; entertainment center, condos, apartments, workforce housing with hotels and destination retail and restaurants; and regional activity center, a small amount of multi-family residential among big-box stores and multi-tenant commercial.
Adjustments of the commercial corridor overlay were made to implement the city’s U.S. 180 Corridor Vision Plan along U.S. 180 from Santa Fe Drive to Bowie Street, Farm-to-Market Road 51/South Main Street from Columbia Street to College Park, and FM 51/North Main Street from the railroad right-of-way to Ric Williamson Memorial Highway. The commercial corridor overlay reduces front yard setbacks to promote foot traffic, requires the majority of parking for new development to be located in the side and rear setbacks and encourages the use of front facades and western-style buildings by requiring the height of the building to be 1.5 times the width of the building.
Changes in tree preservation include incentivizing preservation of mature trees through credits for retention and requirements to mitigate the removal of heritage trees; requiring larger, higher-quality plantings with new development, especially non-residential streetscapes; providing for proportional incremental improvements to promote reinvestment and property upgrades.
“We wanted to see something different not only in our residential areas, but beautifying the whole city as a whole,” Kentner said at the July public meeting. “Our landscaping and tree preservation, we’re taking that to the next level. We have a process and we’re taking it up an additional level to make tree preservation a priority in the community as well as a priority for future development to make sure we preserve some of these great heritage trees that we have.”
Signage changes include encouragement of monument signs over pole signs — monument signs are up to 12 feet in height and 15 feet wide; prohibiting pole signs in all residential districts, central business district, central neighborhood district and within the commercial corridor overlay; and pole signs will be limited to 20 feet in commercial and industrial areas and up to 40 feet for businesses within 500 feet of Interstate 20.
“I do want to draw attention to the fact that this is a living document [and] we want to review this in about three months and see where we are and take any direction that we may have seen that we need to add, change or modify in that timeframe,” Kentner said.
The council and Mayor Paul Paschall thanked Kentner and his staff for their hard work on the project.
“Thank you Mr. Kentner and your team on this project, it’s been a big time-consuming project,” Place 3 Councilmember Matt Ticzkus said.
The full zoning documents will be available on the city of Weatherford website at ci.weatherford.tx.us.
Grant funding was also approved and awarded to local organizations.
“Each year the city receives requests from local organizations for distribution from the general fund and hotel occupancy tax revenue,” Weatherford Finance Director Jessica Doss said. “We have received a request from CASA Hope for Children, Children’s Advocacy Center, Freedom House, Manna Storehouse and Parker County Committee on Aging for a total of $25,000.”
Each nonprofit will be awarded $5,000 from the general fund.
“For the hotel fund, we’ve received requests from the chamber of commerce and the Doss Heritage Foundation. I would like to note though that we have included $96,000 for the chamber of commerce in the proposed budget because in the past we’ve kind of considered this more of a partnership rather than a grant; however, we have required the chamber fill out the application.”
The Doss Heritage and Cultural Center will receive $5,000.
“I still believe that tax dollars shouldn’t be taken from someone and then given to charity,” Place 4 Councilmember Kevin Cleveland said. “However, this is a negotiated number that we’ve come down to and it’s far below what we negotiated so I’m not one to stir the pot this year on it.”
Place 1 Councilmember Heidi Wilder didn’t see it as charity.
“I see it as these institutions help reduce the funds we have to expend in both our police department and other areas that cost the city and this is a cost-beneficial thing as well as investing in our city,” Wilder said.
The funding was unanimously approved by the council.
During the meeting, Paschall also issued a proclamation, designating Aug. 26 as Pray Weatherford Day.