Rowlett P&Z discusses reviewing the form-based code

During the Sept. 22 Planning and Zoning Commission work session, the commissioners received a presentation regarding the form-based code and regulating plan approval mechanism and discussed making changes to provide more clarification.

Munal Mauladad, director of community development, reported that the City Council had provided staff direction to take action to amend the form-based code to require a special use permit for stand-alone multi-family development.

They also indicated support for the implementation of additional short-term and more long-term strategies to better align the various plans, policies and ordinances guiding and effecting growth and development in the city.

“The discussion of conversation is to make sure indeed land uses that we see are vertically integrated and we do follow through with the mixed-use product and not just stand alone developments, specifically stand alone multi-family developments,” Mauladad said. “ (That’s) not to say that the uses should not be permitted at all, but to have an extra level of review or thoroughness in terms of review and assess the appropriateness of that use as from a zoning perspective of multi-family development. Perhaps assess the value of the special permit for these types of uses.”

According to the presentation, with the city approaching build out, there are a limited number of large parcels to develop an employment center hub or to provide a well-designed mixed-use district to diversify the property tax base.

For example, the North Shore Master Plan, the Downtown Regulating Plan, and form-based code were adopted to act as a land bank to set aside this area for the future employment center, as well as to protect existing single-family residences and to integrate appropriate multi-family developments into the land use pattern.

Mauladad stated that this land bank concept is intended to maintain the long-term vision for the city and to allow for a holistic approach to development.

“A major review of the North Shore Master Plan, the Downtown Regulating Plan and the form-based code will soon be undertaken. But we wanted to identify a path or process that is effective, efficient. It’s easy to say we’re going to do an overhaul of the code but is that really necessary?” Mauladad said.

“When the form-based code was originally adopted, the intent was to limit single family residential development to see an increase in density so to speak…most form-based code is more of a special analysis. It’s more of a formal use type of document,” she continued. “In our case, our form-based code also has a schedule of permitted uses. So each district that we have, the rural neighborhood, the new neighborhood, the urban neighborhood, the urban village district (and) commercial center district, all of these districts permit specific number of uses in them.”

She reported that City Council has indicated that they’d like to have oversight in the approval of multi-family residential development in the North Shore.

“They’ve charged the Planning and Urban Design Division to assess the language in the form-based code, to review it, to evaluate it and come forward with some changes, specifically, there seems to be a broad support for requiring a special use permit with stand-alone multifamily development,” Mauladad said.

Changes to the form-based code will also necessitate a review and update to the various plans, such as the North Shore Plan and Downtown Regulating Plan.

Modifications may be needed to address changes in permitted uses and building types in certain districts. New building types may need to be created to enable desired and envisioned development. These changes will be forthcoming in the next few months for consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to the presentation.

Staff will bring forward for consideration of a recommendation to the City Council regarding changes to the approval process for stand-alone multi-family developments tentatively scheduled for Oct. 13.

Further changes to plans and development regulations will be brought to the P&Z Commission for recommendation to the council regarding adoption.

“Our goal is to have a sensible code, an easy code and to make sure that we protect the interest of our community and have that diversity in housing, but a manageable diversity in housing,” Mauladad said.

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