The terminus of a process that began in 2017 is finally in sight, with Aug. 13 now circled on the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen’s calendar for a decisive vote on a sweeping new zoning code.
In the meantime, consulting firm Houseal Lavigne will be finalizing the document to emphasize “design guidelines” over “codified standards” for maintaining controlled growth and redevelopment. The board of aldermen at an April 9 special meeting by acclamation rather than a vote pointed Houseal Lavigne in that direction.
Houseal Lavigne principal Nik Davis gave a roughly hour-long presentation on the proposed new zoning code to the board. The document deals with issues such as parking, transition areas between zoning districts, screening, building materials, landscaping, building placement and orientation, colors, roof lines, signage, awnings and more in both commercial and residential areas.
In choosing the “guideline” rather than “standards” approach, the city would be encouraging more redevelopment and tear-downs with a process that communicates and encourages higher-level commercial and residential projects. The specific guidelines will be developed in the coming weeks.
“Design guidelines would give (the board) an extra level of encouragement of what you would like to see in future developments,” Davis said. “As of this current draft, we are recommending that any single-family detached development on two acres or more go through planning and zoning (and) any non-single family detached development may go through the process. It gives the city a little more flexibility to encourage developers to do the right thing.”
Employment of the guideline standards will require the city to bring a third party individual in to review proposals, said City Engineer Bryson Baker.
“We are trying to modernize our zoning code to better serve both our residents and the development community,” said Mayor Patricia Fribis. “A lot of our old code was out of date and difficult to use. The new code will be clearer, easier to understand and allow the board better control over what type of development occurs in the city. We want to be friendly to business development while still ensuring residents are protected and quality development takes place.”
A public hearing on the draft will be hosted by the planning and zoning commission in July.