One of the public hearing items during the Dec. 18 Rowlett Planning and Zoning Commission meeting was to make a recommendation to City Council regarding a request by Marc English, Sapphire Bay Land Holdings LLC, for approval of a regulating plan and associated major warrants from the form based code urban village standards, as they relate to parking allocation, continuous building frontage, open space and right-of-way frontage, on property zoned form-based Bayside Special District (FB-BS) District. The 116.93-acre site is located south of Interstate 30.
If approved, the warrant would allow parking lots to dominate the streetscape and public realm along the northeast retail parking block and northern theater parking block.
According to the presentation by Daniel Acevedo, assistant director of Community Development, four parking lots have been identified. Per form base code requirements, parking lots are required to be located behind buildings and not along streetscape.
“In this case, the parking lots are primarily along the I-30 corridor along the I-30 frontage road. There is significant grade in this area where the parking lots will be at a different level than the frontage roads. There will be limited access in these areas,” Acevedo said.
“Along with allowing this warrant, it does create a conflict with other sections in the code including the 80 percent minimum building frontage that is required along the right-of-ways,” he added.
The second major warrant is to allow parking adjacent to a sidewalk. Acevedo said that because of the block and lot layout there are blocks in this development that are essentially half blocks; where buildings front both on an internal street and front on the lakefront.
“The form base code requires buildings adjacent to the lakefront provide a front door entry along that lakefront and treated as a frontage. In this district the frontage requirements for retail and commercial buildings are essentially a store frontage on that ground floor,” he said. “Because of the limited size of the block there are no other places to place parking but adjacent to the sides of the buildings.”
According to the presentation, these parking lots are located in strategic locations throughout the district so they would provide for public access to the waterfront and to the trails. The applicant has agreed to allow those to remain publicly accessible in order to provide that access.
Additionally, Acevedo said allowing the warrant does not mitigate from the landscape screening requirements that are still required and would still be in place for any parking lots adjacent to right-of-way.
The third major warrant is to allow townhomes to have front entry garage access from the internal roadway.
The fourth warrant is to allow the northern theater building to back onto trails, parks and natural areas.
Acevedo said the applicant has agreed to prohibit service-related functions along this façade to prevent unwanted or unwarranted elements along trails and open spaces that include: dumpsters, parking, blank facades, utility boxes, loading zones and fences.
Notices were sent out to property owners within the 200- and 500-foot courtesy notice areas. Only one response was received in opposition within the 500-foot courtesy notice range.
Staff recommended approval of all the warrants as presented because the proposed major warrants are not expected to compromise the intent of the form based code district and are in keeping with the vision of the master planned development.
The commissioners unanimously voted to recommend approving the four major warrants and the regulating plan.