Mesquite council discusses preserving neighborhood character

An example of the type of neighborhood identifying street sign discussed by council regarding the established neighborhoods overlay district. 

During the July 20 Mesquite City Council pre-meeting Jeff Armstrong, director of Planning and Development Services, briefed the council and sought feedback on possible text amendments to the zoning ordinance allowing for a new overlay district called an “established neighborhood overlay district” (ENO) to be requested and created for certain established neighborhoods within the city.

Armstrong stated that city staff looked into this after receiving input from residents and council regarding older neighborhoods and concerns that the character of these neighborhoods would be “messed up by other residential structure that doesn’t fit.”

The purpose of this new overlay district is to preserve the character of existing neighborhoods and to guide future development and improvements in those neighborhoods that are not historic districts.

“We’re calling it existing neighborhood overly and we were careful not to use anything like 'conservation' or 'historic' because we don’t intend this to be a true historical overlay and certainly not – when you get into the historical realm – a conservation district. This is really about preserving the character of existing neighborhoods that may not actually be historic,” he said.

According to the presentation, this would be applicable to any existing neighborhood where a minimum of 25 residents in that neighborhood request the overlay; specific boundaries are defined; there’s a minimum of 50 developed single-family parcels; and residentially zoned property only.

The process includes identification after receiving a petition of 25 or more residents from that neighborhood or at the direction of the City Council, and the area is to include at least 50 homes. Staff will then review the application and create the ENO boundary; the boundary should not occur mid-block and other logical boundaries should be used. From there, a neighborhood meeting with city staff is to be held to discuss the proposed overlay. The approval process is the same as any rezoning, which includes public hearings with the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.

If approved, the overlay district will be added to the zoning map. Regulations will apply to all new development, redevelopment and additions to homes.

Regulations within the range include maximum, minimum and average of the existing within the same block on both sides of the street. Things to consider include lot size, living area requirement height, width of front façade, setbacks (front and side), driveway/approach width, and trees.

“Let’s make sure that in these neighborhood overlay districts that we also make sure that we’re taking care of the landscaping, the common areas; even if they weren’t originally part of a neighborhood plat but that they are part of/adjacent to a functioning part of those neighborhoods, that we include that,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robert Miklos.

He stated that these are things that effects how the neighborhood looks and functions as well.

“I would ask that we look at a buffer for these neighborhoods as well; for the uses that are sort of the gateway to these neighborhoods because we can preserve neighborhoods all we want but if we then allow disrupted uses right next door to it that just destroys the neighborhood,” Miklos said.

“I know it’s not a conservation district, but I would really love branding like a conservation district,” he added.

Miklos noted the branding could include signage that makes the neighborhood stand out and is unique to each neighborhood and identifies it.  

Councilman Tandy Boroughs and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dan Aleman stated they would like to give an option for a double wide driveway/approach to get more cars off the streets.

Armstrong said they can establish a foundational overlay, and each ordinance for each overlay can be tailored to suit individual neighborhood overlay.

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