The city of Weatherford officials presented amendments to the zoning ordinance at a joint public meeting Tuesday night.
Residential, commercial, parking requirements, fencing and signs were topics discussed between the Weatherford city council and planning and zoning commission. The purpose was to allow the public to ask any questions about the proposed changes and hold a public hearing.
The common concerns between the city council and planning and zoning commission included cars, (safety, aesthetics and traffic in neighborhoods), and structures (decreasing monotony and improving the feel and quality of subdivisions.)
Additional staff goals included bringing regulations into conformity with the city’s General Plan, other adopted plans of the city and the priorities identified by the council; removing ambiguities and clarifying requirements; and reorganizing and reformatting the text to improve readability and ease of use.
The primary changes would occur within residential zoning.
“Our main focus in this is residential. Currently, our residential zoning district lot size is 50 by 110 [lot size], 6,500 square feet. We’re creating a new single family residential district that is 75 by 100 [lot size], which is 7,500 square feet and an additional zoning district which is 85 by 100 [lot size], 8,500 square feet,” Weatherford’s Director of Development and Neighborhood Services Kaleb Kentner said. “We made corner lots larger. Corner lots have been historically present in the community. We’re increasing the residential estate size of our lots because again, what’s been the vision in the General Plan and the vision and direction of planning and zoning commission and council is we want these lots to be reflective of us as a community. So we’re updating the residential estate and increasing the size from 11,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet, which really does bring us into more compliance with a lot of our neighboring communities and communities that have residential estate developments.”
The changes also include agriculture areas, increasing the current lot size of one acre to two acres.
“This allows us larger lots and [to] go back and fully implement a side entry for vehicles into garages, deemphasize the garages in residential areas and focus on homes and the families that are coming to our community. The garages will be behind the front door to the homes,” Kenter said. “What we commonly see now with new development is the garage door sticking out and the garage is protruding. So we’re increasing the depth of those lots 36 feet from the current 20 feet, this will allow four cars to park in the driveway without blocking the sidewalk, which has also been a neighborhood issue.”
For a front loading driveway there will be a two-car garage required with the 36-foot setback and for a side entry driveway there will be a single-car garage allowed with a 24-foot setback. The garage must be set back behind the front door of the residence.
Ketner said another major factor is landscaping and eliminating the sameness that can be seen in neighborhoods.
“We wanted to see something different not only in our residential areas, but beautifying the whole city as a whole,” Kentner said. “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.”
The changes include incentivizing preservation of mature trees through credits for retention and requirements to mitigate removal of heritage trees; requiring larger, higher-quality plantings with new development, especially within nonresidential streetscapes; providing proportional, incremental improvements to promote reinvestment and property upgrades; and adopting a Landscape and Tree Manual to consolidate all administrative rules into a clear, comprehensive and visual guide.
“The typical subdivisions we’re seeing are at minimum standard — a one and a half inch tree in the front yard, which is not adequate based on the direction we received from the planning commission and council,” Kentner said. “We’ve increased overall size of those caliper (diameter measurement) of trees that we’re going to require in residential areas as well as commercial areas as well.”
The caliper of trees is proposed to increase to a three-inch caliper minimum and a height of four feet.
The city is looking to add another commercial zoning district and eliminating the Office District, which is not being utilized.
“We will be looking at reducing setbacks because we want to see the buildings and the landscaping as a priority rather than the massive parking lots,” Kentner said. “We also looked at reduction in the parking lot requirements because we found a lot of our commercial areas are oversized with the parking requirements.”
The commercial corridor includes U.S. 180 to Bankhead Road, Palo Pinto Street to Bowie Street and South Main Street to Interstate 20. The corridor is limited to primarily retail, offices, professional services and restaurants. The city could extend the commercial corridor to include North Main Street, South and North Bowie Street and Farm-to-Market Road 730.
The city is also looking to update its development review process.
Other proposed amendments
Some of the smaller items include fence and sign regulations.
“One of the things we hear most is we’ve done a lot of work on our corridors this past year and one of the major issues is the signs, the clutter that those signs incur and taking a small step to address those issues now and looking at those more in the future. We talked about eliminating the pole signs or limiting the size of pole signs. We feel that 12-foot is an ideal height versus a 35-foot sign.”
Mike Patterson, owner of Totally Graphic Designs, said the city needs to decide how they want to regulate signs, stick with that and monitor it.
“I am a sign company here in town. We’re going to go back to the monument sign system like we did seven or eight years ago? The problem I have is we need to figure out what way y’all want to go and sort of stick with the plan because it’s hard for me to bid out stuff when people want a 25-foot pole sign or something and I’m looking at them saying I can’t do that,” Patterson said. “It keeps going back and forth.”
Weatherford Place 4 Councilmember Kevin Cleveland said they’re hearing a lot about code enforcement.
“It’s always been hard to enforce because there’s always a lot of gray areas, so we’re trying to get rid of,” Cleveland said. We want to be neighborly to people and not just be invasive and run people out of Weatherford, that’s not what we want. But if we continue to hear from citizens that we’re not getting results that you want, the only option is to be a little stricter.”
A second public hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 during the regular planning and zoning commission meeting.
For more information visit www.weatherfordtx.gov.