Development Philosophy Statement | Landscape, Tree ordinances | Compatibility Fencing
TIA update | Land Management Software | Downtown Master Plan | General Plan
The City of Round Rock in early 2009 began work on improving its land development processes. This effort is part of the City’s overall philosophy of continuous improvement, and builds on previous efforts to streamline the land development process.
The process included a survey of development professionals, and subsequent meetings with an informal committee of City staff and local development representatives to analyze the survey results. Assistant City Manager Cindy Demers and Round Rock Chamber of Commerce former board member Scott Swindell led the team.
A number of initiatives have been initiated, and two completed, as a result of the analysis. This issue of Development News endeavors to catch you up on the latest. One of the completed initiatives is the streamlining the Development Review Committee’s submission and review schedule. The other is City Council approval of a Development Philosophy Statement, which is first on the list of items for this update.
City Council approves Development Philosophy Statement
The City Council, at its Jan. 28 meeting, approved a Development Philosophy Statement titled “Making It Happen.” Round Rock’s Strategic Vision to become the City of Choice requires a prosperous economy, which is fueled by successful, quality development. Because the City Council recognizes the importance of the development process to a successful, quality development, it adopted the Philosophy Statement to guide the City and memorialize its commitment.
The Development Philosophy Statement lists goals for Successful Development, such as providing clear and understandable development standards, as well as our Customer Service Commitment. Here is the full statement.
Grafting the Landscape, Tree ordinances
The City has two sets of provisions that regulate landscaping: the Landscape section of the Zoning Ordinance and the Tree Technical Manual of the Tree Protection Ordinance. These regulations are independent of each other and strive to implement different goals.
In general, the intent of the Landscape Section is to encourage a creative, aesthetically pleasing design, increase development quality and mitigate the impacts of development on neighboring properties. In contrast, the Tree Technical Manual aims to maximize long-term tree growth.
Since these two sets of provisions were adopted years apart from each other, some unintended conflicts exist. The main purpose of the proposed amendment is to reconcile the competing provisions of the Landscape Section. As a result, obtaining an approval for a landscape plan should become a quicker and easier process.
The City Council is scheduled to vote at its April 8 meeting on first reading an amendment to the Landscape Ordinance. Staff contact: Brad Wiseman, Principal Planner, 341-3321.
Based on the City Council’s discussion concerning improving development quality, which took place at its August 2009 retreat (PDF), staff is working with members of the development community to improve our standards for compatibility fencing.
Compatibility fencing is required to minimize the impacts of commercial development adjacent to residential lots. The proposed amendments will provide developers with incentives should they choose to construct to higher standards than minimum requirements. For example, if a developer elects to construct a wall with a cast-in- place structural footing made of natural stone, decorative concrete masonry units (CMU), or brick, the normally required 15 feet landscaped buffer may be reduced as well as the currently required number of trees. Staff contact: Susan Brennan, Planning Coordinator, 218-5425.
Traffic Impact Analysis update
As part of last year’s update to the City’s Strategic Plan, refinement of the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) process was identified as a strategic objective to the Mobility and Connectivity goal and is being pursued as one of many improvements to the City’s development process.
In December 2009, City staff assembled a TIA Review Committee to address concerns with the TIA process and to formulate suggestions for improvements to the existing ordinance.
Committee members include:
• David Sour, representing the commercial development community
• Blake Magee, representing the residential development community
• Terry Hagood, representing the development community
• Heidi Ross, representing the transportation engineering community
• City staff members Lee Heckman, John Dean and Tom Word
The committee is now in the process of reviewing the current ordinance requirements for TIAs and comparing comments received from the Development Review Survey. The goal of the committee is to recommend revisions to the current ordinance that will clarify and streamline the TIA process and ensure that traffic impacts of new developments are identified and properly mitigated.
To date, the committee has met twice and has developed a draft outline of possible ordinance amendments. Next steps include refinement of the proposed revisions, which will then be used to edit (or red-line) the current ordinance so that it includes suggested revisions. These efforts will culminate in a revised ordinance, which will be presented to the City Council for their consideration. Staff contacts: Tom Word, Chief of Public Works Operations, 218-5555; John Dean, Transportation Planner, 218-6617; Lee Heckman, Principal Planner, 671-2727.
Land Management Software project
In an effort to modernize, standardize, and create efficiencies in the land development processes, the City has initiated a Land Management Software Project to implement a software system to track and manage the information and processes that make up land development and management.
Phase I of the project, currently underway, will address the land development processes of annexation, zoning, permitting, development, inspections and code enforcement. In addition to internal efficiencies, this project will improve external participant (developers, engineers, surveyors, etc.) access to information throughout the development process. The software is expected to provide online access to development project tracking information, permit applications and inspection scheduling.
The project team is made up of a cross section of individuals from different business areas throughout the city that play a role in land development. The team held several internal and external workshops to gather requirements that were included in the Request for Proposals that was released March 13. Proposals are due April 16, with implementation of the system expected sometime in spring/summer 2011. For further information about the Land Management Project please contact one of the Project Managers: Chris Collier, GIS Coordinator, 218-5423; and Jennifer Whitman, Systems Analyst, 671-2729.
Downtown Master Plan update
The City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission held a joint work session on March 30 to review key items in the Downtown Master Plan document and discuss catalytic projects.
We’ll be making revisions and clarifications to the Plan Vision, Aims, Principles and Strategies (PDF) as a result of the discussion. The most significant clarification to the Vision was to emphasize the Plan’s importance to Round Rock’s economic development. We also took out a lot of the planning jargon from the Aims, Principals and Strategies.
We’ll review the changes with the P&Z at its April 14 meeting, and anticipate having the City Council vote on adopting the Plan at its April 22 meeting. Staff contact: Will Hampton, Project Manager, 218-5409.
General Plan Open House on April 27
The Planning Department seeks your input on the major recommendations of the Draft 2010-2020 General Plan, including the latest version of the future land use map. These recommendations were created with input from the Focus Group meetings last summer.
The open house is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, in the McConico Building Community Room, 301 W. Bagdad Ave. We hope to see you there! Staff contact: Nathanial Strosberg, Associate Planner, 671-2728.
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